Love may be in the air today, but during December of last year Alberta’s new car and truck dealerships were feeling a little bit less love than they’ve been used to.
According to Statistics Canada, there were 16,199 new motor vehicles sold in Alberta during the last month of the year (seasonally adjusted). That is down almost 6% from November, but still 4.2% above the level of sales in December 2009. Nationally, sales of new cars and trucks also moderated, slipping 4.8% month-over-month to 128,210.
Alberta’s car and truck sales had rebounded very sharply over the first nine months of the year, reaching a 22-month high in September. But weakness returned in the fourth quarter, pushing sales down.
Typically, weak sales of a major durable item like vehicles are due to sliding consumer confidence. However, with Alberta’s economy improving and oil prices higher, that seems improbable.
The most likely cause of the weaker sales is that consumer demand for replacement vehicles has been temporarily tapped out. With all of the new vehicles sold leading up to the fall of 2010, there are simply fewer Albertans remaining in the market for new vehicles.