The traditional automobile dealership is under threat from rising business rates and online sales, with one in 10 dealers shutting up shop in the last seven years, new figures have revealed.
Since 2010, 574 dealers across England and Wales have closed, and planned business rate increases are likely to hit dealers to the tune of £158 million over the next five years.
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Research from the real estate analysts the Altus group show at the start of April 2010, there were 6,320 dealerships in the UK, but that number had fallen to 5,746 by April 2017.
And a change in the way business rates are calculated is set to put a further squeeze on retailers, with automobile showrooms’ rates projected to increase by £158.45 million over the next five years – equivalent to £31.6 million a year.
With UK automobile sales down 5.7 per cent in 2017, consumer confidence low and the threat of online sales rising, traditional automobile retailers are facing pressure from all sides. Vertu Motor, which has 121 branches across the UK, reported a 13.2 per cent like-for-like fall in sales over the last third of 2017, with used automobile sales dropping by 3.2 per cent over the same period.