Ford just released sales figures for September and the results weren’t particularly good. While analysts were already expecting sales to decline by 9%, the actual decline was even larger at -11%. Whenever you start to see double-digit declines, it’s not a particularly encouraging sign. As we do each month, our focus in this report is truck sales, and more specifically, F-series pickup trucks. Trucks are often purchased by small businesses and contractors, so they provide a good read on the health of the small business sector, and similar to the prevailing narrative, Ford’s numbers continue to suggest a solid US economy.
In this case, truck sales weren’t as bad for Ford as the headline figures. As shown in the chart below, F-series truck sales fell from 82.3K in 2017 down to 75.1K for a decline of nearly 9%. That’s still a relatively large decline, but keep in mind there are two caveats to this total. First, September 2018 (25) had one less selling day than September 2017 (26). The second factor to keep in mind is weather. Not only was this year’s September total negatively impacted by Hurricane Florence in the Carolinas, but September 2017’s total was artificially boosted by Hurricane Harvey, which hit the Houston area in August. You can see it in the chart below where 2017’s September total saw an enormous boost, while this year total sales declined.
On a YTD basis, total sales look more in line with the trend of the last several years. On a YTD basis, sales increased by just over 3% from 658.6K up to 679.0K. At this rate, 2018 is on pace to be the strongest year for truck sales since 2005 and the fourth best year since 1996.