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Days of Wine & Roses & Car Sales

Two bold predictions: The sales of small, individually packaged candy sold in November will be down significantly in November compared with October sales.


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Two bold predictions:

  1. The sales of small, individually packaged candy sold in November will be down significantly in November compared with October sales.
  2. In January, the number of bottles of Moët & Chandon and sparkly conical hats sold will be significantly lower than had been the case in the preceding month.

Take a moment to deal with the astonishing implications of that.

Now a few numbers, courtesy of our friends over at Motor Intelligence:

  • The light vehicle SAAR for September 2009 is 9.22 million units (12.57 million units in September 2008).
  • Total industry deliveries in September decreased 23% versus September 2008.
  • Total industry deliveries decreased 41% versus August 2009.

A conclusion, of course, is that the Cash for Clunkers program managed to pull August sales forward at the expense of September sales. Yes, that is probably valid.

But consider the opening predictions. Halloween and New Years Eve have what could arguably be thought of as artificial effects on the sales of candy, champagne and silly hats. Vendors of those products hit a trough the following month. Is that fair and reasonable?

To be sure, New Years Eve is something that comes about every year. As long as we keep a calendar, there it is. So there isn’t much we can do about it, so the champagne and hat sales are going to continue to drop in January. (Even during Prohibition there was undoubtedly a spike in demand for beverages that didn’t necessarily come from Epernay, more likely a bathtub.)


Halloween, on the other hand, is pretty much a made-up event. But would anyone consider striking that from the calendar?

C4C undoubtedly caused a high degree of demand that otherwise would not have been there during the dog days of summer. But weren’t there some benefits that go beyond the number of units sold?

For example, according to a University of Michigan study, the average fuel economy of all new vehicles purchased in the U.S. in July and August improved about 3%. That has on-going benefits vis-à-vis energy usage and emissions.

What about the people at dealerships who were at least to get a few more weeks of work? Or the fact that there were state and local taxes paid on vehicles that otherwise wouldn’t have been there? Or that people who didn’t take advantage of C4C may see a new car or truck in their neighbor’s driveway and find themselves drawn to dealerships?

By the way: long-stem rose sales will boom in mid-February.

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