BANDON, Ore. — Based on metrics for the first half of December, CNW reported this week that new-vehicle sales are on pace to reach about 1.5 million units. If the pace continues, the industry will have sold 10% more than December 2012.

Driving the market research firm’s prediction were a series of upbeat metrics, including a 17.8% surge in floor traffic. Additionally, more than half of the showroom shoppers polled by CNW are within a few weeks of making a vehicle acquisition.

“Add to the higher floor traffic a strong increase in closing ratios,” wrote CNW’s Art Spinella is his firm’s monthly enewsletter. “Up 6.5% versus last month, closing ratios are heaviest among middle 40-year-olds.”

“And with same-store sales up more than 11% and subprime approvals slightly ahead of last year (up 0.72%), the only major concern is the seemingly ever-increasing Jitter Index.”

The firm’s Jitter Index measures consumer sentiment regarding home-centric economic issues. And according to CNW’s December reading, the index increased 1.23% vs. a year ago and 0.22% vs. November.

One of the drivers of CNW’s positive December outlook is female car buyers, which the firm said are regaining ground lost during the recession in terms of dollar value of vehicles acquired. In 2006, CNW noted, female purchases of cars and trucks accounted for 45.5% of all money spent on new vehicles. Through the Great Recession, that percentage fell to 36 percent. Through mid-December, however, that percentage climbed to more than 39 percent.