WESTLAKE VILLAGE, Calif. — The new-vehicle retail sales pace declined sharply during the second half of August, as the impact weak consumer confidence, delayed purchases by consumers waiting for bargains and inclement weather took hold, according to J.D. Power and Associates.

The August retail seasonally adjusted annualized rate (SAAR) is expected to reach 9.7 million units, an improvement from July's 9.5 million unit SAAR. The total light-vehicle selling rate is expected to be 11.9 million units, a decline from July's 12.2 million units.

"With the economic woes, summer vacations and Hurricane Irene taking center stage, August may be a lost month for vehicle sales, but the slight increase in the retail selling rate from last month is still a step in the right direction," said Jeff Schuster, executive director of global forecasting at J.D. Power and Associates. "Marketing and incentive focus has already shifted to September with the upcoming Labor Day weekend, so, with improved inventory, the sales pace could show marked improvement next month."