Report: U.S. Car Dealership Network Will Break Sales Record in 2012


DETROIT — Urban Science released 2012 midyear statistics and insights from its automotive Franchise Activity Report, that shows that the U.S. dealership network remains stable, healthy and poised to reach record-breaking throughput and profitability levels by the end of the year.

Because of a downsized retail network and year-end projected sales of 14.3 million, Urban Science projects the average number of sales per dealership, or throughput, will rise to 805 vehicles per year. This increase would be an all-time high, surpassing the previous record of 784, based on 17 million unit sales in 2005.

“The first six months of the year have been very strong for automotive retailers,” said John Frith, vice president, retail channel solutions, Urban Science. “Automakers have kept their networks relatively flat, giving existing dealerships the opportunity to take advantage of increased sales volume. By doing this, and in turn achieving record throughput levels, dealers are making a profit for the first time in more than three years without having to rely on their service departments to do so.”

As of June 30, 2012, there were 17,770 dealerships in the United States, a 0.02 percent increase from January 2012, and the nation’s dealership network is trending to achieve its second straight annual store increase after growing by 0.6 percent in 2011. Urban Science data shows that in the long term, the network typically experiences a 2 percent decline per year, making an increase, even a slight increase, significant.

Other details from the midyear FAR include:

  • The three states that added the most stores in the first six months of 2012 were California (13), Iowa (eight) and Florida (eight).
  • The three states that lost the most dealerships were Michigan (10), Ohio (eight) and Georgia (eight).
  • Saab eliminated 187 franchises across the nation, including 59 standalone dealerships. 

While the number of dealerships increased slightly, the number of franchises (the number of brands a dealership sells) declined slightly to 29,233, a 1 percent decrease from January 1, 2012.

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