Memorial Day holiday marks big day for car sales

WALNUT CREEK, Calif. (KTVU) - Big ticket retailers pulled out all the stops Monday as millions of went shopping coast to coast. One of the biggest ticket items this time of year are cars.

It's not an accident that the papers and the airwaves are filled with car ads. Dealers, new and used, don't spend this kind of money unless they expect a return. That is precisely what KTVU saw in action at car dealers in Walnut Creek Monday afternoon.

Stephanie Malone is General Manager at Walnut Creek Ford which has already sold nearly 70 cars this weekend.

"Memorial Day, Labor Day Year End are our biggest sales days of the year. It's right before summer, people are cleaning out their garages, they're getting more comfortable, they want to get into something new Spring has just ended and I think it's a really positive time of the year." says Ms. Malone.

"Great prices, lots of special opportunities with the dealer, just a great day to buy a car," says Jennifer Wilson who went car shopping Monday.

For buyers, a trifecta of advantages: zero to two-percent financing readily available on up to six year financing. There are numerous factory incentives from bonus accessories to rebates on many cars. And, with the used car market so strong, dealers are willing to pay more for decent used cars.

"It's extremely hard to find quality pre-owned cars right now, so if you have a really nice trade-in, dealerships are paying top dollar more so than before," says Walnut Creek Ford's Malone.

"You can have an average credit score and drive a pre-owned luxury car that you might have thought that you could have never owned, you know, in the past," says Don Davis of Toyota of Walnut Creek.

Add to that a steadily improving economy, more confident consumers and gasoline prices that remain moderate, well below last year at this time. People seem not to be reluctant to commit to a car payment. "Not worried about it. If I was worried about it, I wouldn't be out here looking at cars of course. My work is busy and I feel good about it," says shopper Jennifer Wilson.

J.D. Power, the global marketing information firm says that U.S. car dealers in the month May, have sold 50,000 cars each and every day If that goes on for the next six days, this will be the best car sales month in 11 years. At this rate, U.S. is headed to one of its best auto sales years ever.