While pandemic-driven consumer behavior shifts and profitability increases enhanced short-term margins, Urban Science warns auto manufacturers to remain focused on right-sizing networks for long-term success.

DETROIT, February 17, 2022 – Urban Science today announced highlights from its 2021 Automotive Franchise Activity Report (FAR), which outlines a year of continued stability and slight growth for the U.S. automotive retail network despite far-reaching inventory shortages in 2021. As of January 1, 2022, there were 73 more dealerships (rooftops) in the country compared to the same date in 2021 (18,230 this year compared to 18,157 last year); the number of franchises – brands a dealership sells – decreased slightly from 31,959 to 31,646 during the same period.

In addition to the U.S. dealership footprint’s slight year-over-year growth, average throughput – the number of vehicles a dealership sells – also rose (19 units) to a total of 826 units per store, a level similar to 2012. And according to the National Automobile Dealers Association, the average U.S. dealership reported a net pretax profit of $3.38 million through October 2021 – a number that’s more than twice what the average store tallied in 2020.

“There’s no doubt 2021 was a lucrative year for franchise dealerships in the U.S., but now more than ever, it’s critical that automotive manufacturers leverage the power of science in informing their network planning strategies,” said Mitch Phillips, global director of data, Urban Science. “As the chip shortage resolves and additional inventory levels the playing field for consumers in purchase negotiations, a right-sized dealership network – not a reliance on short-term, pandemic-driven consumer willingness to pay more – will continue to be the underpinning of sustainable success now and in the future.”

According to the Urban Science FAR, 85% of core based statistical areas (CBSAs) in the U.S. remained stable and did not experience net changes related to their respective dealership counts. The most significant state-level changes were all net increases with California (+28), Texas (+12) and New York (+10) accounting for the majority of the U.S. market’s 73 new (net) stores.

About Urban Science

Urban Science is a leading automotive consultancy and technology firm that serves automotive original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) and dealers, and the advertising technology companies that support them, around the world. Headquartered in Detroit and operating in 21 office locations globally, Urban Science taps the power of its science – and its unrivaled data, solution offerings and industry expertise – to create clarity and business certainty for clients in even the most chaotic market conditions. Visit UrbanScience.com for more information about how Urban Science helps automotive manufacturers and dealers gain competitive edges by taking the guesswork out of critical business decisions, and in turn drives improved efficiency and profitability industrywide.

About the Urban Science Automotive Franchise Activity Report

Urban Science maintains a list of current new vehicle dealership and franchise information for all car and light truck brands in the United States. Compiled on a monthly basis, the census is the most reliable source of dealership statistics. The data comes from a variety of sources, including feeds from automotive manufacturers as well as phone and field verification. Urban Science has been collecting this information since 1990 and compiles an annual analysis for the previous year in its Automotive Franchise Activity Report.