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Keep on Truckin': Small Biz Buyers Coming Back

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AP

When auto makers report August sales later today, don't be surprised by the whopping numbers they put up.

Ford will probably be the biggest,with sales expected to jump 30-40%. The combination of a successful Cash for Clunkers programand very easy comparison with August of last year will help Ford post a huge number. Overall, the industry sales rate is estimated to be well over 13 million vehicles.

But look beyond this one time Clunkers bounce and you will see some encouraging news for the broader economy. Pick-up truck and work van sales are improving. At Ford, they saw the first sales increase for the F-Series pick up truck in months.

Why is this so important?

Pick-ups are the work horses of the small business contractors and trades people. The guys with tools, equipment, hardware, etc. rely on their trucks day in, day out. But for the last two years, pick-up sales have slumped, along with the housing market and the economy as a whole. It's easy to understand why a small business owner or contractor would put off buying a new truck or trucks. Business was sporadic at best, and it was not the time to lay out the money for a new pick-up.

To be sure, Cash for Clunkerswas the incentive many small business owners needed to upgrade their work vehicles. But, this goes beyond that. Talk with dealers and they will also tell you they are seeing more contractors and tradesmen coming into dealerships. There is an optimism, albeit cautious, among these pick-up buyers that wasn't there six months or even two years ago.

The first August auto sales report comes out at noon.

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