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Selling your business? Here are the top industries for 2016...

Posted by Kevin Freeman

Wed, Mar 02, 2016 @12:00 PM


The numbers are in!  BizBuySell.com, the internet’s largest business-for-sale marketplace, has released their Fourth Quarter 2015 Insight Report, cataloging the top industries for small business sales at the end of 2015.

And there’s some great news: BizBuySell.com reports that 2015 saw 7,222 closed business sales, just shy of 2014’s record-setting 7,494--the busiest year for business sales since they started tracking marketplace data in 2007.

The Philadelphia metro area, including Camden, NJ and Wilmington, DE was among the 15 most active market for business sales, out of the 68 BuzBuySell.com reported on, holding on to it’s place among the best markets to for selling your business.

So if you were going to sell your business this year, which industries are the strongest?

Service Industry

True to form, the service industry continues to make up the largest share of small business sales in 2015, making up for almost 39% of closed business sales through the end of the year.

The top 5 services sub-sectors by number of sales:

If you own a business in one of the following sub-sectors, your business was one of the most in-demand in the service industry in 2015--a trend that shows no sign of slowing down.

  • Healthcare & Dental - 342 businesses sold
  • Drycleaning & Laundry Services - 316 businesses sold
  • Other Business Services - 286 businesses sold
  • Miscellaneous Services - 258 businesses sold
  • Beauty Salons, Barber Shops - 239 businesses sold

Auto Repair, Landscaping & Lawn Care, Freight, Moving, and Delivery Services, as well as Education Services, like tutoring, also had a strong showing in the most popular service businesses of 2015.

The top 5 services sub-sectors by median sales price:

If your business is among the following industries, not only is it in the top performing sector for business sales in 2015, but businesses in these sub-sectors sold for the highest median sales prices:

  • Hotels & Other Lodging Places - $799,950 median sales price
  • Freight, Moving/Delivery - $500,000 median sales price
  • Other Travel & Transportation - $450,000 median sales price
  • Computer & Software Services - $362,500 median sales price
  • Miscellaneous Repair Services - $343,000 median sales price


The combined retail market continues to make up a whopping 49% of the businesses sold in 2015, with the Restaurants contributing 21%, and all other retail comprising 28% of all businesses sold.

Restaurants also took the top spot for in-demand businesses, with the most sold of any of the top businesses on this list--1,590 closed deals nationwide.

Retail Restaurants

Restaurants, Bars, and other eating and drinking establishments contributed a total of 2,116 closed businesses sales to 2015.

  • Restaurants - 1,590 sold, median sales price of $155,000
  • Bars/Taverns - 279 sold, median sales price of $180,000
  • Other Eating and Drinking - 247 sold, median sales price of $112,000

Other Retail

The largest sub-sector of retail, the Other Retail sub-sector comprises of everything from Florists to Marine Equipment, and everything in between.

The top 5 retail sub-sectors by number of sales:

Not surprisingly, the top five most in-demand retail sub-segments were dominated by everyday consumables businesses with wide market appeal:

  • Liquor stores - 289 businesses sold
  • Convenience stores - 282 businesses sold
  • Gasoline Service Stations - 216 businesses sold
  • Miscellaneous retail - 202 businesses sold
  • Vending Machines - 93 businesses sold

The top 5 services sub-sectors by median sales price:

In the retail sector, 2 of the most in-demand businesses also made had the highest median sales prices: Gasoline and Service Stations and Liquor Stores. The rest of the list:

  • Supermarkets - $399,000 median sales price
  • Building Materials, Hardware, & Garden - $375,000 median sales price
  • Automotive Dealers - $355,000 median sales price
  • Gasoline Service Stations - $320,000 median sales price
  • Liquor Stores $305,000 median sales price


Making up 5% of the closed business sales in 2015, the Manufacturing sector made the list of Top Industries to sell a business in last year. While a smaller market (read: less businesses available for sale) than the Retail and Service sectors, the Manufacturing sector has been a strong performer for Stony Hill throughout 2015 as well.

The top sub-sectors for sales?

According to BizBuySell.com’s research, the top manufacturing sub-sectors for sales also had some of the highest median sales prices on the list.

  • Fabricated Metal Products - 71 businesses sold, $745,000 median sales price
  • Miscellaneous - 62 businesses sold, $450,000 median sales price
  • Printing, Publishing - 55 businesses sold, $267,000 median sales price
  • Food and Kindred Products - 24 businesses sold, $362,500 median sales price
  • Electronic & Electrical Equipment - 19 businesses sold, $800,000 median sales price
  • Industrial & Commercial Machinery - 16 businesses sold, $694,800 median sales price

The Takeaway

Far and away, the leaders for 2015 were the Service and Retail industries.  According to BizBuySell.com’s Market Insights report, both industries continued to pick up steam through Q4 of 2015, actually increasing their share of closed deals through the end of the year.

Based on that data, we’d place strong bets on businesses in these industries continuing to do well through 2016.

And if your business happens to be in the Freight, Moving, and Delivery Services, Retail, Foodservice, or Healthcare sectors, you’re really in luck:

Not only are those some of the top-performing sectors for 2015, but they’re also some of Stony Hill’s specialties.  If you’re interested in speaking with one of our expert advisors, click here to get in touch.