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Cox Automotive and Autotrader experts react

Assessing implications of GM switching to quarterly sales updates

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Article Highlights

  1. Both Cox Automotive senior economist Charlie Chesbrough and Autotrader executive analyst Michelle Krebs each shared a cautionary reaction on Tuesday morning just hours after General Motors announced that the automaker will begin reporting its U.S. vehicle sales on a quarterly basis, effective immediately.
  2. “I think for GM, they feel like this is going to be a time saver,” Chesbrough said. “They won’t be scrambling so much to get the news out at the start of each month. They feel maybe they’re chasing a little too much monthly volatility, which might be out of their control. And they haven’t been able to focus enough on bigger picture stories they could focus on a quarterly basis. I think that’s the general idea.”
  3. “I was around in the lead up to the recession, and auto sales were a bellwether of the economy,” Krebs said. “We might not get at least a public lead on that without seeing monthly sales. But I understand why GM is doing it. Other industries do it. In the real estate industry, they switched over. Other retailers like Wal-Mart and Target, they don’t do monthly sales. I get it on that respect.

Both Cox Automotive senior economist Charlie Chesbrough and Autotrader executive analyst Michelle Krebs each shared a cautionary reaction on Tuesday morning just hours after General Motors announced that the automaker will begin reporting its U.S. vehicle sales on a quarterly basis, effective immediately.

Contained in the closing segment of what evidently is its last monthly sales announcement, GM explained that now second quarter sales will be released on July 3, third quarter sales on Oct. 2 and fourth quarter sales on Jan. 3 of next year.

“Thirty days is not enough time to separate real sales trends from short-term fluctuations in a very dynamic, highly competitive market,” said Kurt McNeil, U.S. vice president of sales operations at GM. “Reporting sales quarterly better aligns with our business, and the quality of information will make it easier to see how the business is performing.

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