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Classes 4-7 U.S. retail sales were flat in September compared with a year earlier, reaching 20,268, steadied by a 36.4% gain in the Classes 4-5 segment, WardsAuto.com reported.
In the 2019 period, medium-duty sales totaled 20,278.
Classes 6-7 posted double-digit declines. Meanwhile, Classes 4-5 sales jumped to 11,208, compared with 8,216 a year earlier.
E-commerce sales are boosting the need for Classes 4-5 trucks, said Chris Brady, principal for Commercial Motor Vehicle Consulting.
“Transporting small consumer goods from the retail outlet to the home that was normally provided by the household is now provided by a fleet,” Brady told Transport Topics.
The Census Bureau reported estimated second-quarter 2020 e-commerce sales, the latest available data, reached $211.5 billion, or 16.1% of the total $1.3 trillion in retail sales for the period. Compared with the first quarter, Q2 e-commerce sales rose 31.8%. E-commerce sales rose 44.5% compared with Q2 a year earlier.
In Class 4, sales soared 75% to 2,412 compared with 1,377 a year earlier. General Motors Co. accounted for 1,182 of September’s total, or 49%, with its Chevrolet and Chevrolet LCF models.
Class 5 sales rose 28% compared with the 2019 period. Ford dominated with 4,468 out of the total of 8,796. Dodge Ram was next with 1,741 sales. It is a brand of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles. Freightliner, a unit of Daimler Trucks North America, followed with 1,273, up from 454 sales in the 2019 period.
Saluting the men and women of the trucking industry who kept America's essential goods flowing during the coronavirus pandemic.
Class 6 sales dropped 17.6% to 4,549 compared with 5,519 a year earlier. Ford swept into the lead with 1,900 units, and Freightliner had 1,069. Together, they accounted for 65% of sales in the segment.
Class 7 sales fell 31.1% to 4,511 in September compared with 6,543 in the 2019 period. Freightliner led with 1,639 sales. That was down 44% compared with 2,912 a year earlier.
Also in Class 7, International, a brand of Navistar Inc., saw sales fall 19% to 1,581 compared with 1,944 a year earlier.
Brady expects Classes 6-7 sales will continue to be below replacement demand volumes.
“[Fleets are likely to] shrink capacity in response to lower business sales,” he said, “and extend truck trade cycles to strengthen business balance sheets due to the uncertainty of the recovery, as an acceleration of the coronavirus may increase government restrictions.”
Brady added,“The primary cause of the recession, the coronavirus pandemic, makes the recovery uncertain and fragile.”
ACT Research President Kenny Vieth said, “There is a symbiotic relationship between heavy-duty freight rates and medium-duty demand, and clearly, the shift in consumer spending from experiences, or services, to goods has been good for the providers of local trucking services.”
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