Toyota stores still rank high on shopping lists

Donna Harris covers retail issues for Automotive News
You'd think that after Toyota's big recall scare, the price of a Toyota store might fall. Not so. Toyota stores are still high on buyers' shopping lists.

Investment banker Sheldon Sandler, of Skillman, N.J., says all dealerships took a hit in the downturn -- mostly due to steep declines in property values. "The pecking order remains intact, though," says Sandler.

What's changed: Buyers won't pay $100 million for a Lexus store, as they did a few years ago. Nor are they willing to commit to pricy store upgrades, says Phil Vogel, an industry consultant in San Francisco.

Vogel says Toyota's still demanding larger dealerships and more service bays, but buyers are negotiating harder to keep their fixed costs down.