What the data shows: Taxable sales of autos and accessories include the sale of new and used cars, repair shops, auto-supply stores and gasoline stations. The latest data available is for August and the annual percentage change is compared with August 2008.
What it means: The jump in auto sales in almost every area of the Gulf Coast in August shows consumers took advantage of the government's “cash for clunkers” program. However, the benefits were uneven. Sales jumped 11.6% in Naples on an annual percentage-change basis (the highest in the state), but they fell 1.4% in Tampa. Still, Tampa's drop in auto sales in August was less than it was in July (-3.6%). Statewide, taxable sales of autos and accessories rose 1.3% in August compared to the same month a year ago.
Forecast: The “cash for clunkers” may have stolen sales from future months and manufacturers have confirmed that with dismal sales in the fall. Credit continues to be a challenge for many buyers and the unemployment ranks continue to grow on the Gulf Coast. Consumer confidence remains relatively low despite stabilization in the housing market.
AUGUST AUTO SALES
Area Aug. auto sales %Annual change
Naples $54.4 11.6%
Punta Gorda $19.2 8.7%
Sarasota $124.3 5.7%
Fort Myers $111.8 1%
Tampa $506.5 -1.4%
Source: Florida Legislature Office of Economic & Demographic Research