Consumer Search and Automobile Dealer Co-Location

40 Pages Posted: 27 Jun 2015 Last revised: 23 Sep 2018

See all articles by Charles Murry

Charles Murry

Boston College - Department of Economics

Yiyi Zhou

Stony Brook University

Date Written: June 30, 2018


Retailers co-locate with rivals to take advantage of economies of agglomeration even though co-location implies greater competition. Using data on all new car transactions registered in Ohio from 2007 to 2014, we estimate a structural model of consumer search for spatially dif- ferentiated products that explicitly captures the agglomeration and competition effects of retail co-location. Search frictions generate an average of $333 per car in dealer markups. Agglom- eration implies that dealer closures could harm incumbent co-located dealers, even though the incumbent dealers would face less competition. Our results inform the recent policy debate surrounding the massive downsizing of car retail networks and highlight the role of contagion in brick-and-mortar retailing.

Keywords: retail agglomeration, spatial competition, car dealers, retail exit

JEL Classification: D83, L13, L62

Suggested Citation

Murry, Charles and Zhou, Yiyi, Consumer Search and Automobile Dealer Co-Location (June 30, 2018). Available at SSRN: or

Charles Murry

Boston College - Department of Economics ( email )

140 Commonwealth Avenue
Chestnut Hill, MA 02467
United States

Yiyi Zhou (Contact Author)

Stony Brook University ( email )

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