ATLANTA — Equifax reported this week that the latest National Independent Automobile Dealers Association (NIADA) Business Confidence Survey shows that independent dealers anticipate sales growth to slow during the third quarter.

Conducted during the second quarter, the survey shows that 44% of the 150 independent dealers polled believe there would be growth during the third quarter. That’s down 12% from the 56% of dealers who said they expected sales growth to continue in the second quarter.

Additionally, 48% of respondents anticipate floor traffic to remain consistent with the prior quarter. Fifty-one percent believe overall economic conditions in the auto industry will remain unchanged.

Forty-three percent said they believe sales volume will remain the same, compared to 34% who thought there would be no change during the second quarter. Equifax officials said that could point to a leveling off of the market.

“While there are some indicators that show slightly less growth, dealers still see the industry as stable …,” said James Giamalvo, vice president of dealer services at Equifax.

The latest Business Confidence survey also showed that independent dealers also see additional opportunities outside of car sales, most notably in the service department. According to Equifax, the percentage of dealers expecting to hire service personnel nearly doubled from 21% in the previous quarter’s survey to 39%.

The survey also showed a clear trend toward the use of digital marketing channels, with 95% of respondents indicating that they plan to maintain or increase their investment in digital marketing.

For more on the survey, click here.