How can we tell how small businesses are feeling? Find out how many vans theyâ€™re buying.
Van sales were up 32 percent in July over last year, a greater increase than nearly every other vehicle type (exception: sports cars), according to data from Bloomberg Industries. â€œVan sales offer an insight into corporate economic sentiment, given their high penetration into small businesses and commercial fleets,â€ writes analyst Kevin Tynan. He estimates that well over 90 percent of vans are purchased by businesses.
From housing contractors to beer distributors, much of Americaâ€™s small business commerce travels by van. Nearly 26,000 vans were sold in the U.S. last month. Thatâ€™s 6,000 more than were sold a year ago. Total van sales this year are up 17 percent from the same period in 2011 and 39 percent from two years ago. Go back to July 2009, the first month of the official recovery after the recession, and youâ€™ll find that fewer than 11,000 vans were sold that month.