Weak improvement in August car sales possibly due to Hurricane Irene

August car sales showed improvement over last year’s numbers, especially in the domestic sector. General Motors reported that their sales were 18 percent higher last month than they were in August 2010, and Volkswagen of America said August sales of its brand in the U.S. rose 10.4 percent over last year.

The Detroit Free Press reports that Hurricane Irene may have been a big part of the reason that the numbers were not higher this month. Many dealerships closed in anticipations of the storm that made its way up the East Coast last weekend. Irene also caused damage to many stores and vehicles, and an estimated 10,000 sales were lost that weekend, according to the news source.

“With the economic woes, summer vacations and Hurricane Irene taking center stage, August may be a lost month for vehicle sales,” Jeff Schuster, the executive director of global forecasting at J.D. Power and Associates, told The Los Angeles Times. “Marketing and incentive focus has already shifted to September with the upcoming Labor Day weekend, so with improved inventory the sales paces could show marked improvement next month.”

Now that the storm has passed, the economy is recovering (albeit slowly) and inventories are beginning to be replenished in the wake of the Japanese earthquake, it could be a good time for drivers looking to buy a car with an auto loan to start shopping.