• Number of U.S. dealerships decreased by 38 rooftops, which is less than the 2019 decline
  • Average dealership throughput fell to 807 units, a decrease of 133 units from 2019
  • Georgia, California, and New York saw the biggest decline in total dealerships


DETROIT, February 10, 2021— Urban Science released statistics and insights today from its 2020 Automotive Franchise Activity Report (FAR), indicating a small decrease in dealership rooftops but a large decrease in sales throughput.

As of January 1, 2021, there are 38 fewer dealerships (rooftops) in the United States, taking the January 1, 2020 count of 18,195 down to 18,157. This 0.2% decrease is small and still indicates continued stability overall. More dealerships declined in 2019 than they did in 2020. The number of franchises, or brands a dealership sells, also experienced a period of stability, slightly decreasing from 32,185 to 31,959 year-over-year.

“Sales throughput for dealers is defined as the number of sales divided by the dealer count,” said Mitch Phillips, Urban Science’s Global Director of Data. “Last year, sales throughput fell 133 units to 807 per store based on 2020 sales. This is about the level we have seen in 2012. With this current stable dealer count, the throughput statistic is controlled primarily by the sales volume. Next year’s sales are forecasted to rise to over 15.4 million vehicles which would result in the throughput rising to around 865 units per store.”

A recent Urban Science online study supports this forecast, finding that, despite the rise in COVID-19 cases across the U.S., consumers are becoming increasingly comfortable with visiting a dealership in-person, with 64 percent reporting they believe “completely safe to go to a dealership today” and 42 percent are “comfortable visiting a dealership within the next month or sooner.” When looking at the demographics, four in 10 adults living in urban areas report they’ll buy within the next year—twice as many as those in suburban and rural areas.

Since 2010, the dealership network has set a new normal pattern of stability,” said Phillips. “The data shows that 97 percent of local markets had virtually no net change (+/- 1 dealership). That said, the most significant (net) dealership changes occurred in the following states:

State Changes
Georgia -8 dealerships
New York -8 dealerships
California -7 dealerships
North Carolina +9 dealerships
Florida +9 dealerships
Wisconsin +4 dealerships

An interesting observation is that Texas is missing from the most active states; typically, they are on the list for adding the most dealerships.”

About the 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.

About the Urban Science Online Study
The survey was conducted online within the United States by The Harris Poll on behalf of Urban Science from October 27-29, 2020 among 2,025 U.S. adults ages 18 and older. Figures for age, gender, education, income, race/ethnicity, region, size of household, marital status, and internet usage were weighted where necessary to bring them into line with their actual proportions in the population. This online survey is not based on a probability sample and therefore no estimate of theoretical sampling can be calculated. For more details on the study, visit urbanscience.com/insightlab

About Urban Science
Founded in 1977, Urban Science is a global retail consulting firm that takes the scientific approach to help companies identify where they should allocate resources in order to increase their market share and profitability in the most effective and efficient manner possible. With headquarters in Detroit, Urban Science serves its global clientele from 21 offices in the United States, Australia, Brazil, China, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Spain and the United Kingdom. For more information on how Urban Science guides business through science, visit urbanscience.com.