The industry will sell approximately 1.27 million new cars and trucks in February, representing a 2.2% decrease from a year ago, according to an Edmunds forecast.
The slight year-over-year decline in sales was expected, as retail demand is beginning to slump as average transaction prices continue to grow, noted Jeremy Acevedo, Edmunds' manager of industry analysis.
Presidents Day typically brings in a surge of new vehicle sales, but this year's event did not see a significant lift compared to the rest of the month, according to Edmunds analysts.
The analysts also noted that the slower sales pace in February indicates that few sales were recuperated from those affected by extreme weather conditions like the polar vortex and from those impacted from the government shut down last month.
"It's easy to point fingers at anomalous factors like the polar vortex as the reason for sales slowdown, but the numbers don't show that's the case," said Acevedo. "Record-high interest rates and rising average transaction prices are what's really putting pressure on the market and keeping car shoppers at bay so far in 2019," said Acevedo.