DETROIT – U.S. auto sales fell 4.7 percent last month, the most pronounced slowdown of the year and a strong indication that 2017 will put an end to seven straight years of growth.

Auto executives and analysts, who have been anticipating a slowdown, saw no cause for panic. Many expect sales in the important economic sector to top 17 million for the third straight year, an industry first.

“The demand for the light vehicles is still holding up quite well,” said George Mokrzan, director of economics for Huntington Bank in Columbus, Ohio. “It’s been coming down from a very high level.”

Still, sales have dropped for four straight months, the first time that’s happened since the economy ground to a halt in 2009. April sales totaled just over 1.4 million, a figure that translates to an annual sales rate of 16.9 million, far below last year’s record of 17.5 million. The April decline brought year-to-date sales down by 2.4 percent from a year ago.

General Motors, Ford, Toyota, Fiat Chrysler, Nissan and Honda on Tuesday all reported weaker U.S. sales than a year ago. Of top-selling automakers, only Hyundai and Volkswagen reported small increases.

Kelley Blue Book says it looks like 2017 U.S. sales will experience their first annual drop since 2009. It expects full-year sales of 16.8 million to 17.3 million.

Jessica Caldwell, an analyst with the Edmunds.com auto buying site, said all growth cycles eventually come to an end. “It’s an economic cycle in buying that has to occur. I think that’s why we’re starting to see sales back off a little bit,” she said.

Sales are slowing despite strong economic fundamentals. Wages and consumer confidence are up, unemployment is down and gas prices and interest rates remain at historically low levels.

Mokrzan said because cars and trucks last longer these days, people may be choosing to spend money elsewhere. Home remodeling and new home construction are up, he said.