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Car sales take deep slide in Feb. snow



Published: Tue, March 16, 2010 @ 12:09 a.m.

By DON SHILLING

shilling@vindy.com

Details on vehicle sales last month in the Mahoning Valley:

NEW VEHICLES

Top models: Chevrolet Malibu, 124; Chevrolet Cobalt, 41; Chevrolet Equinox and Ford F-150, 33.

Top dealers: Sweeney Chevrolet in Boardman, 79; Greenwood Chevrolet in Austintown, 58; and Fairway Ford Mercury in Canfield, 49.

USED VEHICLES

Top models: Pontiac Grand Am, 101; Chevrolet Impala, 94; and Chevrolet Cavalier, 86.

Top dealers: Denny’s Auto Sales in Youngstown, 113; Greenwood Chevrolet, 98; Pace Motorcars of Boardman, 78.

Source: Automobile Dealers Association of Eastern Ohio

New-vehicle sales dropped to their lowest point in decades last month, but a weak economy wasn’t the only culprit.

“I think it had to do with the weather,” said Shorty Navarro, who owns the Stadium dealerships in Boardman and Salem. “I don’t ever remember that much snow.”

Sales have been slumping since the nation’s credit and stock markets collapsed in 2008, but they reached a new low in February.

Last month was the snowiest February on record in the Mahoning Valley, with 36.3 inches recorded at the Youngstown-Warren Regional Airport in Vienna.

Dealers in Mahoning, Trumbull and Columbiana counties sold 969 new vehicles last month, which was 4 percent below the number sold in February 2009.

It also was just under the 972 that were sold in November 2009.

That month was the first time that Steve Chos, executive vice president of the Automobile Dealers Association of Eastern Ohio, could recall that monthly sales dipped under 1,000.

He has been with the association for 20 years.

Comparisons that go back farther than three years are difficult because the association changed reporting services that calculate the totals, but February clearly was one of the worst sales months in a long time.

“It was the longest short month that I could ever remember. We had several blankets of snow that slowed everything,” Chos said.

Navarro said he expects improved results this month. After all, the sun was out for several days last week, and temperatures have gone up.

“Everybody has had a good start. Looks like we’ll have a good month,” Navarro said.

For the first two months, local dealers sold 2,210 new vehicles, which was down 10 percent from the pace set in 2009.

Used-vehicle sales were not strong in February, either.

Dealers sold 3,549 used vehicles last month, which was down 8 percent from February 2009. In the first two months of this year, dealers sold 6,086 used vehicles, which was down 12 percent from the pace set in 2009.


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