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U.S. Auto Retail Network Narrowly Misses Record Sales

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Feb. 14, 2017—Urban Science’s Automotive Franchise Activity Report (FAR) indicated continued stability in the number of automotive dealerships in the United States since the end of 2015.

As of January 1, 2017, there were 18,170 dealerships (rooftops), a 0.5 percent increase from January 1, 2015 total of 18,087. The number of franchises, or brands a dealership sells, also experienced a period of stability, slightly increasing from 31,776 on January 1, 2016, to 32,011 as of January 1, 2017.

"The sales throughput for 2016 was 965 per dealership. This throughput narrowly missed setting another record level by one unit due to the stable but increasing count of dealerships in 2016," said Mitchell Phillips, Urban Science's global director of data. "With the current dealership count trend as we have seen for the past several years and a stable current industry forecast, exceeding the 2016 level is questionable.

"Over the last six years, the dealership network has set a new normal pattern of stability," said Phillips. "The data shows that 96 percent of local markets had virtually no net change. That said, the most significant (net) dealership increases occurred in Texas, 15 dealerships; Florida, 14 dealerships: Arizona, nine dealerships: Massachusetts, eight dealerships; and New York, seven dealerships. An interesting observation is California, which is typically on the most active list, is no longer included on the most active list, demonstrating a period of stability."

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