As consumers compress their car-shopping journeys, they are spending less time in showrooms.
A new study commissioned by vehicle shopping site AutoTrader.com finds that new-car shoppers today take 13.75 hours on average to buy a vehicle from start to finish vs. 19 hours in 2011.
For dealers, that decrease means that shoppers are finding more information online -- and spending less time at dealerships.
Dealers and carmakers are putting better information online and in showrooms, allowing shoppers to find what they need to make buying decisions faster, said Kevin Filan, vice president of customer marketing and industry relations at AutoTrader Group, the parent company of AutoTrader.com.
Improved consumer confidence also may be prompting buyers to pull the trigger faster than they did two years ago, he said.
The amount of time shoppers spent researching vehicles and dealers on the Internet fell slightly.
The biggest change was in face time at dealerships and in other offline research, such as talking with friends and family, Filan said. Shoppers cut time offline in half from 7.5 hours in 2011 to 3.75 hours in 2013.
In an earlier report, AutoTrader.com said that 58 percent of car buyers visited only one or two dealerships before making a vehicle purchase. The average number of dealership visits before purchase has been falling for years.
Used-vehicle buyers also are spending a growing portion of their shopping time online, Filan said.
He said dealerships are aiding online used-car shoppers with more photos and videos than in the past to help them verify the condition of vehicles.
AutoTrader.com's 2013 Automotive Buyer Influence Study was conducted by R.L. Polk & Co., which surveyed 2,739 random vehicle buyers by phone and online. About 90 percent of those buyers had purchased a vehicle within the past six months.