Automotive News is reporting a bleak day in the making as automakers report their September sales numbers, expected to be off 20% from a year earlier. Shriveling credit markets, continued high fuel prices and a general lack of confidence in the economy are all contributing to push the annualized sales rate down to an estimated 12.5-13.5 million vehicles from 16.2 million last September. If predictions hold, the resulting new vehicle sales numbers could be the lowest in more than a decade. So how do dealers on the front lines see the situation? Jim Weisbecker, general manager for Belle Glade Chevrolet in Florida, summed up the effect the credit crunch is having on customers. Weisbecker told Automotive News. "In the past we were accustomed to financing 70 to 80 percent of our cars sold. Now we finance about 20 percent, if that. It has been a drastic turnaround." Jim Fosche, sales manager at Buddy Foster Chevrolet in Zephyrhills, Fla, explains that joblessness is making the current crisis worse than the economic downturn of the late 1970s. "Even in the '70s when interest rates were at 18 percent, people were buying because people were working," Fosche said. "Now, it's very difficult." We guess even "employee pricing for everyone" doesn't work so well when no one's employed. [Automotive News (Sub. Req.)]