New-vehicle retail sales continued to struggle in July, according to new analysis by J.D. Power & Associates, despite getting off to a strong start over the July 4 Independence Day holiday weekend.

The firm said new vehicle retail sales reached a seasonally adjusted annualized rate (SAAR) of near 9.6 million units, 300,000 units stronger than the 9.3 million units in June. Yet the total light-vehicle selling rate is expected to reach 11.8 million units, the third straight month below the 12 million-unit level, according to J.D. Power’s initial analysis.

“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,” noted Jeff Schuster, J.D. Power’s executive director of global forecasting. “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.”

He added that the new vehicle retail sales slowdown occurred largely during the second half of the month, mirroring June’s retail sales trajectory.