Auto sales in Orange County tumbled in May, falling 9 percent as buyers retreated from local dealerships.
Sales have declined much of the year following a record-setting buying pace in 2016.
One surprise in the data provided by the Orange County Automobile Dealers Association was a 6.6 percent dip in light-truck sales, which have seen solid gains for years as construction in the county has boomed. Year-to-date sales for trucks are up 3.9 percent.
Akshay Anand, a senior analyst at Kelley Blue Book, called the decrease in light truck sales “significant.”
“The first thing that comes to mind is we see seasonality trends,” Anand said.” In Orange County, it’s finally been warming up. There may have been more people looking at summer cars. We do see that sometimes.”
Orange County’s slide was echoed in U.S. sales overall. Car sales saw a decline of 9.3 percent in May, according to the Wall Street Journal.
Year to date, sales in Orange County are down 2.5 percent. In April, sales increased 0.5 percent. In March, auto sales increased 2.1 percent, following declines in February (0.3 percent) and January (4.2 percent).
In May, BMC, Buick, Cadillac, Ford, GMC, Infiniti, Kia, Lincoln, Maserati, Mazda, MINI, Nissan, Porsche, Volkswagen and Volvo all saw double-digit decreases in sales.
Chrysler, Jaguar, Land Rover and smart were the only companies to see double-digit increases in sales.
The slump will likely mean deals ahead for shoppers over the July Fourth holiday, Anand said.
“You see some automakers up 5 percent some months and some automakers down 8 percent one month,” he said. “Because we are in that type of environment … we will see automakers push sales as much as possible.”
Anand added that in the past few years, auto centers have “pivoted to a service mindset,” which could offset a slow sales month.
“If you look at the way the industry has gone, margins on new cars are smaller,” he said. “In order to separate themselves, good…