CARY, N.C. –
Despite a third straight month-over-month decline, certified pre-owned sales in September beat year-ago figures by almost 10%.
That’s according to a Cox Automotive analysis of data from Motor Intelligence, which indicated there were 224,536 CPO sales last month, which beat prior-year figures by 9.8% and came in 6% lower than August’s sales.
Year-to-date certified sales are down 7%, according to the Cox analysis, which forecasts 2.6 million CPO sales for the year.
While that projection is subject to change and off from the 2.8 million CPO sales last year, the expected full-year tally remains in same ballpark that annual CPO sales have been over the last handful of years.
“The CPO market has been one of the strongest performing segments within the auto retail market,” Cox Automotive said in the analysis. “Consumer demand has improved from the peak of COVID-19 in April.”
And two of the three months in the third quarter showed year-over-year growth in certified sales. In addition to September’s 9.8% uptick, CPO sales in July came in at 254,982 units, up from 235,579 in the same month of 2019, according to the Motor Intelligence data cited by Cox. (CPO sales for August dipped from 260,725 to 238,498).
“So far, the certified pre-owned market has seen the quickest rebound in sales performance, making CPO the strongest performing segment of the auto retail market,” Zo Rahim, Cox Automotive’s manager of economics and industry insights, said during a late-September sales forecast conference call.
“Consumer demand for these … like-new used vehicles has really improved from the peak of the crisis back in April,” Rahim said.
In terms of the overall used-car market, Cox estimated that sales fell 5% year-over-year last month. The used-car SAAR was an estimated 38.0 million for the month, steady with August’s level. However, it was off from 39.8 million in September 2019.
As far as the SAAR for used retail (sales from dealers only), Cox pegged September’s rate at 20.2 million, compared to 20.3 million in August and 20.7 million a year ago.
In a call around the latest Manheim Used Vehicle Value Index earlier this month, Cox Automotive said it was forecasting 39.3 million used-car sales for 2021, which would be a nice bump from the 36.1 million it is projecting this year.
In 2019, there were 40.0 million used-car sales.
As for what Cox considers retail used-vehicle sales, it is projecting 19.1 million sales this year, down from 20.8 million in 2019. For 2021, Cox is projecting 21.2 million.