US new vehicle retail sales in July, which got off to strong start over the Independence Day weekend, slowed again during the second half of the month – a pattern also seen in  June 2011 – JD Power and Associates said.

It now expects a July retail seasonally adjusted annualised rate (SAAR) of 9.6m units, 300,000 more than the 9.3m in June. The total light vehicle selling rate is expected to reach 11.8m units, the third straight month below the 12m unit level.

“The auto industry is having a difficult time shaking off adversity, as vehicle sales start the second half of the year better than June, but not as strong as many people had hoped,” said JDP forecast chief Jeff Schuster.

“A recovery pattern is still expected, but the pace could be in question as reported weaker GDP growth in the first half of the year may dampen the outlook.”