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    Sales of C-stores See Healthy Increase

    Business owners willing to accept lower prices for their properties and improved lending conditions are cited as reasons.

    SAN FRANCISCO -- Completed sales of convenience stores shot up during the first quarter of 2012, according to BizBuySell.com's Insight Report.

    The website reported that 69 c-stores were sold during the latest quarter, compared to 46 in 2011's fourth quarter and 45 during the first quarter of last year.

    The figures outpaced business sales as a whole, according to the data. BizBuySell.com claimed 1,729 retail businesses were sold in the first quarter of 2012, a 3.9 percent increase vs. last year's first quarter.

    That increase marked the largest number of retail business sales since the fourth quarter of 2008, reported the website.

    "Seeing small business transaction totals reach 2008 levels bodes well for the upcoming months," said Mike Handelsman group general manager of BizBuySell.com and BizQuest.com. "While we are not out of the woods yet, economic factors are slowly improving and have given the business-for-sale marketplace a nice boost to start 2012."

    The website cited one main driver for the increase in business sales. Business owners were willing to accept lower prices than in previous quarters.

    "Business owners are continuing to adjust their pricing in order to expedite a sale," Handelsman said. "While some may still be holding out for an economic recovery, many more are trying to exit at acceptable prices, even if it means settling for a lower number than originally expected."

    Lower-priced sales rang true in the c-store industry when comparing quarter to quarter, but not year over year. During the latest quarter, the average c-store sold for $137,500, compared to $145,000 in 2011's fourth quarter and $133,000 in the first quarter last year.

    Another factor allowing business sales to increase was a more favorable lending environment, BizBuySell.com reported. Banks have become more lenient recently regarding their lending practices, according to the site.

    Looking ahead, Handelsman said he expects continued growth in business sales for the remainder of the year.

    "There are certainly small business owners who have been biding their time since the recession hit in 2008," he said. "With better financing available for buyers and a larger supply of businesses ready to hit the market, we may finally have the right conditions for a more significant bump in the number of closed transactions.

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