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Bargain shoppers help new-car sales post best December since 2000

November 18, 2010
Retail sales, helped by sizzling activity in auto showrooms, jumped 1.2 percent in December, providing a solid finish to a year in which sales climbed at the fastest pace this decade. For the year, retail sales climbed a solid 8 percent, the best performance since an 8.5 percent rise in 1999. The gains were led by a 4.3 percent jump in auto sales, as dealers turned to enhanced incentives to move cars out of showrooms. Sales in December came in at an annual pace of 18.4 million units, the best showing for the entire year. Paul Taylor, the NADA's chief economist, said consumers waited for the bargains at both new-car dealerships and shopping malls. Shoppers in car dealerships and department stores have disciplined themselves to wait for the price they want, and retailers mostly obliged in December. New-car dealers sold 1.53 million light vehicles in December, compared with an average of about 1.4 million units in each of the previous three Decembers. Analysts had doubted the strength of car sales prior to the government's report, but what Detroit left on the table with confusing and less generous incentives for the month, Asian- and Eurobadge manufacturers gained in sales.