Car Sales on the Rise | Herb Chambers

Car dealers are hopeful for brisk business this Presidents Day weekend – traditionally this one of the biggest weekends of the year for car sales.

“The company’s up 90 percent,” said Daniel Bortolussi, general manager of the Herb Chambers dealership, comparing this year’s Presidents Day weekend to last year’s. “There’s a lot of exciting cars out there right now.”

Sales managers said pent-up demand, combined with a break in bad weather, led to the high weekend sales.

Tom Van Fechtmann, general manager of Herb Chambers Honda in Westboro called this weekend phenomenal.

His dealership sold a record-high 34 cars on Saturday, compared to 19 on the same day last year.

“The best part about it was we sold a little bit of everything: pre-owned, new cars, different types of new cars,” he said.

While the snow was a challenge, sales at the Honda dealership were up 24 percent in January, compared to January 2010, Mr. Van Fechtmann added.

Though car sales are still well below pre-recession levels, the National Automobile Dealers Association reported that nationwide, sales were up 17 percent this January, and the industry is on pace to sell 12.6 million vehicles this year.

Still, Herb Chambers could have done without all the snowstorms that brought the region to a halt many times last month.

“Since the first of January, it’s been terrible,” said Mr. Chambers, who owns nearly 50 car dealerships in New England. “We’ve had atrocious weather. People weren’t in the frame of mind that they wanted to buy a new car when they had a foot of snow out the front door.”

While winter weather kept some consumers away from the dealerships, new cars kept arriving in dealers’ lots. Heading into the weekend, Mr. Chambers said, his dealerships were buried in inventory.

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