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Auto sales drop less than expected, research firm says

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April 16 (UPI) — New vehicle sales dropped less than expected in the first 12 days of April amid many closed showrooms due to restrictions to curb coronavirus spread, research firm J.D. Power said.

The firm said in a report Wednesday retail sales through April 12 were down 55 percent compared to the pre-virus forecast, which suggests this month’s sales might not have the 80 percent drop feared.

“This is obviously much better than the previous worst-case scenario that we had,” J.D. Power Data and Analytics Division President Thomas King said. “This reflects the demand is showing some resilience.”

Still, the report said that 578,000 sales have been lost as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

The report noted that Michigan opened online sales this past week and 23 states, which represented 51 percent of sales in 2019, have had to close dealer showrooms and sell only online or remotely.

Excluding hard-hit states of New York, Michigan and Pennsylvania, sales were down only 45 percent from the pre-virus forecast.

All three of the states are in the top five as far as number of cases of COVID-19 across the country. New York has by far the most at 213,779 cases and 11,586 deaths. Michigan has 27,893 cases and 1,919 deaths and Pennsylvania has 27,735 cases and 863 deaths.

In New York and Michigan, there is no ban on auto sales, but there are restrictions. In Pennsylvania, auto sales are banned.

In 24 states, representing 44 percent of 2019 sales, showrooms remain open.

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