Snowstorms didn't dampen February car sales

Feb 28, 2011

It's not unusual for a big snowstorm to hurt business at new car dealerships.

But it appears that February car sales in the U.S. improved over the same month a year ago, even though much of the country experienced more than one big snowstorm.                           

Car sales could be up 19% as a fair number of people trudged through snow-covered lots to buy a car.  That could be a sign that the pent-up demand that built up over the recession is now being released at a steady pace. 

Anthony Pratt, of PricewaterhouseCooper’s Auto Facts, expects a gradual improvement for the rest of the year. 

But Pratt says there are still problems in the economy that are putting the brakes on car sales, like high unemployment and people not qualifying for new car loans.  Plus, automakers aren’t rolling out a lot of incentives like cash back.   

"Automakers are more content with a gradual recovery," says Pratt.  They’ve reduced capacity through the downturn and they’re realizing profits at these levels.  And I don’t think they’re feeling the need to heavily incentivize vehicles to boost sales."

U.S. automakers report February sales on Tuesday.