One result is that the number of retail outlets, also known as rooftops, that sold fewer than 150 new vehicles dropped 19 percent last year to 3,483, NADA Data shows.
The number of outlets selling 150 to 399 new vehicles rose 3.3 percent to 4,918; the number that sold 400 to 749 vehicles rose 8 percent to 3,484; and the number selling 750 or more vehicles increased 16 percent to 4,511.
While consolidation in the form of a red-hot buy-sell market played a role, Szakaly said the shifts mainly reflected rising industry sales. "Because the market is rising so much, even the smallest dealerships are moving up [in sales volume] as well. The data supports that," Szakaly said.
Szakaly said retail dealership consolidation is occurring but added that small, rural dealerships in particular represent a competitive advantage for automakers.
"They move good volume and provide a point of service and a point of contact in places that you may not otherwise have any other retail facility," he said. "This is very important for the OEMs. It's not a hindrance."
The average dealership's total spending on advertising rose 3.7 percent to $494,776 in 2014. Increased vehicle sales per dealership caused advertising expenses per vehicle to dip to $608 from $616 a year earlier.
The Internet continued to grab the lion's share of the average dealership's advertising budget last year. The average dealership plowed $130,324 into online advertising, up 4.9 percent.