Westlake Village, California – Final U.S. new vehicle retail sales figures are expected to increase substantially in December 2009, when compared with one year ago, according to J.D. Power and Associates, which said it indicates “the continuation of the industry’s recovery.”

Retail sales in December are expected to come in at 839,600 units, representing a seasonally adjusted annualized rate (SAAR) of 9.1 million units. Although fleet sales have rebounded from historic lows earlier in 2009, December sales are projected to be down ten per cent from December 2008.

Total retail and fleet sales for December 2009 are projected to come in at 1,029,600 units, up seven per cent from December 2008.

“The market is continuing to improve, with the relative strength of December sales supporting a year-end rally,” said Gary Dilts, senior vice-president of global automotive operations. “The December selling rate is tracking at 11.2 million units, up nearly one million units from one year ago, which sets up 2010 for further recovery.”

On the heels of the worst economic environment since the Great Depression, the automotive market has recovered from its low point in March 2009, and has been outperforming expectations since October.

“While the industry hasn’t yet received a clean bill of health, fixed costs have been trimmed at all levels, allowing for profitability, even at a reduced selling rate,” said Jeff Schuster, executive director of global forecasting. “The industry has an opportunity in 2010 to build on a series of small victories, such as improved pricing and appropriate inventory levels, to drive a stronger recovery.”

J.D. Power and Associates is maintaining its 2010 forecast at 11.5 million units for total sales, and 9.5 million units for retail sales.

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