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That Car With Bow Is a Gift for Automakers

After being a decidedly average month for auto sales since 1991, December got into the holiday spirit after the economic downturn and became the No. 2 sales month for all of 2009, according to automotive cost-comparison site Last December produced the most auto sales of any month on the calendar behind huge incentives and pent-up demand.

Since 2009, December has been the No. 1 sales month for Acura, Audi, BMW, Cadillac (GM - Get Report), Infiniti, Land Rover, Lexus and Mercedes-Benz. The past two Decembers have been the highest-volume month for almost every brand except Jaguar, which considered it second-best in 2009 and strictly middling last year.

Ivan Drury, an analyst at Edmunds, sees this as the best evidence that automotive gift giving isn't just some commercial fable, but economic reality. He insists that buying a car with wood-grain accents, all-leather interior, space-detecting parking sensors and heads-up display basically amounts to a gift purchase, even if that present is meant for the buyer.

Drury has a sleigh full of support for his self-gifting Santa theory. A survey by National Retail Federation and BIG Research, for example, found that holiday shoppers plan to spend 14% more on themselves this holiday season than last year. While that gives luxury automakers and holiday car shoppers who feel they've been extra nice this year reason for holiday cheer, putting a bow on that holiday buy may be a bit much when the neighbors are trying to stick to their holiday budgets.

"With Lexus pushing luxury sales by having the 'December to Remember' it does cause a chain reaction for other luxury automakers to up the advertising and incentives," says Ivan Drury, analyst for Edmunds. "If anyone were to have enough income to purchase a luxury vehicle during a time that you're busy spending on travel, gifts/presents, dinner out and all the other holiday expenses that come along with December, I'd certainly classify a luxury vehicle as a gift."

-- Written by Jason Notte in Boston.

>To contact the writer of this article, click here: Jason Notte.

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Jason Notte is a reporter for TheStreet. His writing has appeared in The New York Times, The Huffington Post,, Time Out New York, the Boston Herald, the Boston Phoenix, the Metro newspaper and the Colorado Springs Independent. He previously served as the political and global affairs editor for Metro U.S., layout editor for Boston Now, assistant news editor for the Herald News of West Paterson, N.J., editor of Go Out! Magazine in Hoboken, N.J., and copy editor and lifestyle editor at the Jersey Journal in Jersey City, N.J.
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