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Page Background Auto retail adapts to changing consumer habits


by Michelle Z. Askeland

Automobile retailers are facing

many of the same challenges other

retail industries are struggling to over-

come.While new car dealerships and

used car dealerships face different

constraints in some regards, both are

being pressed to address a supply-

and-demand land imbalance, chang-

ing consumer habits and municipality

hiccups. The way forward for used

car dealerships looks more nimble

in the face of growing land costs and

an active online market, while new

car dealerships are placing a larger

emphasis on the retail experience to

retain and attract new customers.

“Real estate has become one of the

bigger challenges and, in some cases,

the top challenge, dealers have in

opening a new store, getting an addi-

tional franchise or moving a store to

grow with volume,” said Tim Jackson,

Colorado Automobile Dealers Associa-

tion president. The lack of available

land has been an issue for the past

20 years, but it’s a much more pro-

nounced problem today, he said.

The demand for automobile real

estate is more brisk than ever, said

James Mitchell, vice president of

CBRE’s automobile properties group.

This demand is largely driven by the

active automotive industry, which

is climbing to a maturity point well

beyond the trough of 2008, and deal-

ers are quickly finding that they need

to expand current facilities to keep up,

he said.

The ideal location for a dealership

is paramount. “You want to be vis-

ible, you want to be accessible and,

depending on your brand, you want

to be surrounded by other brands that

are the caliber that you’re trying to

promote,” said Mitchell. “So if you’re a

Mercedes-Benz dealership, you don’t

want to be surrounded by a bunch

of pawn shops. You want to be sur-

rounded by other high-end brands.”

Most owners are looking for acreage

in new properties that can support a

lot of surface parking as well as a sin-

gle-story or a two-story building, said

Mike Hockett,W.E. O’Neil Construction

Co. vice president of business devel-


The Northern Colorado market continues to evolve following three major retail trends. Northern Colorado PAGE 10 The thriving shopping mall celebrates its 20th anniversary and shares lessons learned. Park Meadows PAGE 21 The city’s suburbs are finding ways to embrace an urban feel in their communities. Denver’s suburbs PAGE 18 Please see Page 16 November 2016

W.E. O'Neil Construction Co.

Used car dealerships, like Sonic Automotive’s new EchoPark Automotive program, enjoy more flexibility for land use and facility requirements than new car dealerships.