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Improving economy drives up auto sales
Lower interest rates steering buyers into dealerships
Mark Passmore shows Reanee White new cars on the lot at Hardy Chevrolet. Across the U.S., auto sales have increased with low gas prices and the approach of the holiday season.

Automobile dealerships in Gainesville are seeing huge upticks in sales this year, believed to be on the upswing due to lower interest rates and higher consumer confidence.

Kelley Blue Book estimated before Black Friday shopping that the seasonally adjusted annual sales rate for November was 16.8 million nationally, up 2.2 percent from November 2013. The annual sales rate reached 17.2 million, according to Autodata, after the shopping holiday, boosted by a host of stronger economic indicators.

“There’s just a lot of consumers at this point (who) are ready to replace a vehicle, and credit is available for fairly cheap at the moment to be able to buy those vehicles,” said Tim Evans, vice president of economic development at the Greater Hall Chamber of Commerce.

In Gainesville and Hall County, the effects of this increase can be seen on the production, sales and logistics entry points in the automotive industry.

“For the foreseeable future, I think everybody that I’ve talked to in the automotive supply chain and automotive-related businesses feel that it’s probably going to be a really good time in the next couple of years for the automotive sales sales and automotive companies,” Evans said.

Dealerships along Browns Bridge Road also enjoyed the similar trends in Gainesville.

“It’s just a matter of the fact that people are finally back at work and doing things and can afford to buy,” said Wayne Alexander, general manager at Hardy Chevrolet.

Alexander reported that new car and truck sales have been up around 15 percent compared to last year.

Over the last several months, gas prices have dipped below $3 per gallon, but Evans said he doesn’t believe this will factor in long term for car buyers.

“I think the fact that oil prices are going down may just be on the periphery for consumers,” he said. “It certainly makes you feel good to go to the pump and pay a little bit less, but it probably isn’t going to be a permanent feature.”

Lower interest rates for new car loans, partnered with more disposable income, has created a good year for dealerships in Gainesville.

“Banks are a lot more aggressive, financing is awesome and easy to get, so it’s been a good year,” said Greene Ford’s General Sales Manager William Ferguson, who reported an increase of 20 percent over last year.

As a result of better job confidence and lower unemployment, new heights have been reached for Milton Martin Toyota, said Emily Hayes, advertising and public relations director.

“Out of the 11 months that we’ve had already, we’ve had 10 of the best ever (months) in the history of the store,” she said.