Manheim’s Tom Webb dissected the fourth-quarter reports from the seven publicly traded dealership groups and discovered same-store used unit retail sales increased for the 18th consecutive quarter.
Webb pointed out that these companies managed to keep this streak going even though the year-over-year comparisons represented “an increasingly high hurdle.”
Nevertheless, Webb mentioned in his latest Manheim Consulting blog post  that in each of the last three quarters, same-store unit sales rose at a double-digit pace for this group that includes AutoNation, Asbury Automotive Group, Group 1 Automotive, Lithia Motors, Penske Automotive Group and Sonic Automotive.
With the benefit of acquisitions, Webb determined that total used unit retail sales for this dealer groups jumped to more than 1.2 million in 2013, an increase of 13 percent.
“Yes, gross margins have continued to narrow, but quick inventory turns, strong F&I income, and increased operating efficiencies have more than offset that decline,” Webb said.
Beyond the performances of the publicly traded dealership groups, Webb said the retailing market was enjoyable for many kinds of dealers last year.
“Indeed, many of the large privately held dealer groups scored even bigger gains in their used operation in 2013,” Webb said.
“As we wrote in our annual Used Car Market Report, it was a great time to be a dealer — whether franchised, independent, buy-here, pay-here, or wholesaler,” he continued. “In fact, if, as a dealer, you didn’t knock the cover off the ball in 2013 you might consider selling out while acquisition prices are high.
“The strong used vehicle retailing environment of 2013 will likely continue into 2014, but it won’t last forever,” he concluded.