How Independent Shops Compare to DealershipsPosted 6/25/2004
By Denise Caspersen
A recent member inquiry led me to research how the independent shop sector was faring compared to franchised dealerships. I discovered the independent sector has shown a steady increase in number and sales, while the dealership sector has declined and tapered off during the past four decades. Here's a look at the 1970s and 1980s. Next month, we'll review the growth for independents in the 1990s to present day.
In 1970, there were 108.4 million vehicles registered in the United States, and each traveled an average of 10,236 miles. Repairs and maintenance of these vehicles were performed by 30,800 new and used franchised dealerships, 30,700 general repair businesses, 18,300 auto body businesses and an unknown portion of the 165,200 gasoline service stations with payrolls. Annual sales for these categories totaled $57.8 billion, $3.2 billion, $1.8 billion and $29.2 billion respectively. The $29.2 billion for gasoline service stations also includes the sale of gasoline, and the dealership figure includes vehicle sales.
In 1980, there was a 50 percent increase in registered vehicles with 155.8 million traveling an average of 9,813 miles. With this kind of increase, one would suspect an increase in repair facilities. This is a correct assumption for independents and a wrong one for dealerships. Reductions occurred in both dealerships - decreasing to 28,250 - and gasoline service stations, going to 131,000; while general repair increased to 40,500 and collision businesses grew to 23,800. Annual sales grew for all to $130.5 billion for dealerships, $94.1 billion for gasoline service stations, $7.1 billion for general repair and $5.6 billion for collision repair businesses.
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