Cutting costs and adding stores are two ways auto dealers are preparing as speculation swirls about an impending U.S. recession.

Automotive News reported that Zeigler Auto Group, a Kalamazoo, Mich., group of 26 stores, “picked up a couple of dealerships last year and is pursuing opportunities to add more,” President Aaron Zeigler said.

Bulking up could be beneficial, experts said this month, not just to weather a downturn but to cope with changes in auto retail such as shrinking new-vehicle margins, costly new regulatory demands and emerging technologies such as electrification and autonomy.

In the buy-sell market, Zeigler says he has noticed a couple of trends: He’s fielding more phone calls about potential deals in part from aging dealership owners who may not have succession plans. And softening new-vehicle sales could lower dealership purchase prices.

“There’s obviously a lot of uncertainty out there, and a lot of balls in the air,” Zeigler said this month during the Automotive News Retail Forum: Chicago.

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