Business

Local Auto Sales Stalling, Despite Bargain Prices At The Pump

With low oil prices taking a toll on Houston’s economy, consumers are putting off buying new cars.

 

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Cheap gasoline has helped boost local sales of trucks and SUVs in recent months. But the latest numbers suggest Houston-area dealers are starting to experience the downside of the collapse in oil prices.

Vehicle sales across Greater Houston totaled 27,877 in February. That’s up 1 percent from January but down 15.5 percent from a year ago.

“The impact of lower gasoline prices on spending decisions, I think that’s behind us, and locally consumers have adjusted to that,” says Steve McDowell, owner of InfoNation and publisher of TexAuto Facts. “I also think that the economic news has been affecting consumer confidence.”

McDowell says the decline in truck sales could signal a new phase in Houston’s economic slowdown. “Our pickup sales were the lowest level in the past six months, and that tells me we may have some concern out there about the level of future construction activity, even though construction activity right now is very strong.”

Nationwide, vehicle sales last month were up 9.2 percent compared to January and 5.4 percent compared to February of last year.

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Andrew Schneider

Politics and Government Reporter

Andrew heads Houston Public Media’s coverage of national, state, and local elections. He also reports on major policy issues before the Texas Legislature and county and city governments across Greater Houston. Before taking up his current post, Andrew spent five years as Houston Public Media’s business reporter, covering the oil...

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