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SAN FRANCISCO -- Continuing a two-year trend, small business sales inched up again in 2011, according to BizBuySell.com, an online business-for-sale marketplace. This upward spike dates back to the beginning of 2009.
Overall, the number of small businesses across the United States that reportedly changed hands in 2011 was up 3.3 percent to reach 6,703 vs. 2010's total of 6,486. This comes on the heels of a similar 3-percent increase in closed transactions from 2009 to 2010, according to BizBuySell.com.
"While 2011 continued to be a tough year for the nation's small business owners, we were pleased to see that business performance is improving and more people are buying small businesses," said Mike Handelsman, group general manager of BizBuySell.com and BizQuest.com. "Helping this is the fact that business sellers are adjusting their value expectations, something that should continue to spur deals in 2012."
The rise in transactions was accompanied by a 3.3-percent rise in the median selling price, according to the company, jumping from $150,000 in 2010 to $155,000 in 2011. Median revenue registered an even bigger increase -- 6.7 percent -- indicating that improved business performance contributed to increased sales activity.
However, the news was not as bright for the convenience store industry. According to BizBuySell.com data, the median asking price for c-stores was $175,000, with the median sale price coming in at $145,000 during the fourth quarter of 2011. By comparison, the median asking price for the fourth quarter of 2010 was $299,500, with the median sale price coming in at $282,000. Overall, 46 c-stores changed hands in the fourth quarter of 2011 compared to 40 in the same quarter a year before.
The median revenue for convenience stores in the fourth quarter of 2011 was $540,000, and the median cash flow was $100,000, the data showed. These stats were also down from the same quarter the year before -- median revenue in the fourth quarter of 2010 was $765,000 and median cash flow was $112,966.
"We are seeing improved small business transaction activity driven, at least in part, by the fact that small business owners are lowering prices to attract buyers" Handelsman explained. "It's slowly becoming a better time to be a seller, but it's already a good time to be a buyer."
Things continue to look up for small businesses. Fundamentals point to a continued slow, but steady growth in the business-for-sale market in 2012 barring unforeseen global economic issues. Small business performance is improving and sellers who haven't been able to sell for the past few years should start to reach performance levels that make a sale possible. Added to this is the fact that sellers are becoming increasingly realistic about valuations to more aggressively seek a sale.
Finally, underlying all of this is the very favorable long-term conditions of latent supply -- for example, the large number of U.S. baby boomers reaching retirement age -- and demand that will continue to fuel transaction growth, especially as credit restrictions ease, the company added.