CAR sales have bounced 10.9 per cent, suggesting the gloom hanging over households is not preventing people purchasing big-ticket items.
The Australian Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries said sales of new vehicles jumped to 98,347 in November, compared with 88,654 in the same month last year.
The rise is the latest tentative sign that lower interest rates may be having an impact on consumer confidence, despite the sluggish conditions in other parts of the economy.
Sales were up 2.9 per cent on October, while in seasonally adjusted terms the increase was 0.1 per cent. For the 11 months to November, sales were 1.02 million, up 9.8 per cent on the same period last year.
Sales of sport utility vehicles finally started to slow somewhat after a meteoric rise, but were still up 8.1 per cent on November last year. The light commercial market was also strong with a rise of 15 per cent and the heavy truck market jumped 19.7 per cent, pointing to solid business investment.
The bounce comes after a Westpac survey last month showed a significant majority of households thought now was a good time to buy a vehicle - perhaps reflecting the strong purchasing power delivered by the high Australian dollar.
However, the strength of vehicle sales stands in stark contrast with softness seen in retail spending, with consumers perhaps attracted by low interest rates on car loans.
For November alone, Toyota retained first place on the sales ladder with 19.6 per cent of the market. Holden held second with 10.5 per cent, while Mazda seized third with 8.9 per cent. Ford dropped back with 8.7 per cent, while Hyundai took 7.9 per cent.