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Automotive retailers turn growth engine into overdrive


While do-it-yourself auto repair has no doubt become a more scientific exercise, America’s love affair with the automobile is alive and well, as evidenced by the ability of AutoZone and other leading automotive retailers to continue opening new stores at a rapid and profitable level.

For example, last month AutoZone opened its 4,000th store in Houston on June 26, and before the year is over it will have close to 4,065 units. The year before, Advance Auto Parts achieved a similar milestone with the opening of its 3,000th store. It ended last year with 3,082 stores and is on track to end this year with 3,287 units. Regional players are growing rapidly as well. Springfield, Mo.-based O’Reilly Automotive increased its store count by 170 units to end last year with 1,640 stores. This year it expects to add nearly 200 stores. Close on O’Reilly’s heels is Phoenix-based CSK Automotive with 1,332 stores at the end of last year. It’s not adding units as rapidly as the others, but it still expects to end this year with 1,376 stores.

A large reason for the growth is that automotive chains have discovered new ways to provide basic services such as diagnosing why a vehicle’s check engine light may be illuminated and installing wiper blades and batteries.

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