NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- U.S. motorists bought vehicles at a healthy clip in May, with the Big Three Detroit-based automakers reporting strong retail sales for the month. Analysts also noted that shoppers are spending more per vehicle, a sign of confidence and a financial boon to the automakers.
Analysts surveyed by Bloomberg said they expect automakers to post a 1.1% decline in retail sales of light vehicles for May, or about 1.59 million sales. However, that's a smaller dip than was expected, and on an adjusted basis, the monthly rate would imply 17.3 million sales rate for the year, the highest since last August.
General Motors (GM), the No. 1 producer in the U.S., reported a 3% increase in sales from the same month last year, reflecting strong results from its Chevrolet and GMC divisions. GM, reorganized following its 2009 bankruptcy, is benefiting from strong demand for its full-size and mid-size pickup trucks.
Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCAU), No. 3 in the market, said May sales rose 4%, propelled by strong performances at its Jeep and Ram pickup truck divisions. It was the 62nd straight month of year-over-year gains for the automaker, which was reorganized as a merged company following the bankruptcy of Chrysler in 2009.
Ford (F) said retail sales fell 1.3% from a year ago, a smaller decline than analysts had forecast. Ford has been coping with a manufacturing changeover in its pickup truck division to accommodate a new aluminum-body F-Series that has reduced the availability of its pickups at dealerships.