Forecasters are predicting that the March sales figures for the US market will make for grim reading.

Edmunds predicts that this month’s new vehicle sales (including fleet sales) are expected to be 774,000 units, a 42.7% decrease from March 2008.

“If sales continue at this pace all year, we’re looking at a SAAR of only 8.9 million, which is slightly more than half of 2007 sales,” observed CEO Jeremy Anwyl. “However, this dire report neglects to cover that underlying demand for new cars continue to climb and is often being translated into used car sales.” recently reported that that more than 20% of car shoppers who researched new vehicles actually bought a used vehicle. The company predicts that the trend accelerated in March.

“No automaker can sustain itself if the new car market doesn’t open up soon,” commented Michelle Krebs, Senior Editor of Edmunds’ “It’s time for legislators to do something material, such as introduce scrappage laws, offer tax credits or temporarily lift sales tax, or at least increase the existing tax deductions on car loans.”
March 2009 had 25 selling days, one less than last March 2008. When adjusted for this difference, sales decreased 40.4% from March 2008.

Analysts say that through the first two weeks of March, US auto sales were down 40% year-on-year.

According to JD Power retail sales are expected to fall to just 633,000 units in March, well off the pace from the 1.07 million vehicles sold in March 2008. Total sales are expected at 798,000 units, JD Power says.

However, JD Power said, somewhat optimistically perhaps, that it is confident that sales will see an uptick within the next few months.