More than 20 percent of U.S. car dealerships disappeared between Jan. 1, 2006, and Jan. 1, 2011, according to the Automotive News Data Center. In fact, the past half-decade has seen a greater proportion of the dealer body fall away than any whole decade since the 1950s, when the dealer count fell by 22 percent.
In both eras, a rash of brand failures contributed to the sharp decline.
In the 1950s, the Allstate, Crosley, Frazer, Henry J, Hudson, Kaiser, Nash, Willys-Overland and Packard brands disappeared. Since 2006, Isuzu, Pontiac, Saturn, Hummer and Mercury have vanished from the U.S. market.
In the past five years, the number of dealerships fell to 17,653, a loss of 4,436. But store attrition started in earnest six decades ago.
Despite World War II and four years of no civilian car production, the dealer count fell by less than 1 percent from 1941 to 46,821 dealerships in 1950. But by 1960 it was down to 36,336, and has dropped at least 10 percent every decade since then.