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empty pub – a mirror of the real economy right now and a mirror of all life

There is no precedent for this global economic crisis. At we are already preparing for what comes next

What we see at, a business established in 1996, is a mirror of the entire economy – thousands of pubs, restaurants and hotels are listed for sale alongside E-Commerce businesses, delivery companies, pharmacies and convenience stores selling bread and toilet roll.

Currently, over 60,000 active going concerns are being advertised for sale – in the UK, Canada, the US, Spain and across a Coronavirus hit world.

Some sectors are on their knees – destroyed overnight. It has been brutal. A complete wipe out. Other sectors have been elevated to a government essential service.

In the UK this means pet shops, bicycle shops, laundrettes and hardware stores are the new kings of the high street. Huge retail giants Ikea, TK Maxx and Top Shop may be shut but Tony’s – the local convenience store at the end of my road, just off the A3 in SW20 – is very much open and is taking orders for eggs. They will call you when they arrive. 

Social isolation devastating the economy

There are over 370 pet shops for sale around the world right now on and over 900 convenience stores (not including the hundreds of gas stations in the US that double up as convenience stores). So, while some sectors are down as a result of Covid-19, others will inevitably be up because of the same virus.

Traffic to our site has been halved in the immediate aftermath. Normally, we see 1.3 million unique visitors per month. This is now looking like 600,000 unique visitors in the coming month.

But the fact that people are still enquiring – currently over 1,500 buyer enquiries are being sent per day – says everything about human nature.

People flood back to restaurant

Interestingly, E-Commerce, tech and web-based businesses have seen an almost doubling of interest, as people who would have been looking for a more “traditional” business, change their mind and switch tack.

It’s not uncommon on our site for people to come looking for a pub and end up buying a bungee jumping business or a high-end pet accessories shop. The response is always the same, “I never knew I could buy a business like this.” We always say, “If you can imagine it, it’s probably for sale somewhere in the world, on”.

But wait. We still need those unfashionable businesses – even the ones that have been temporarily shut down. They won’t be unfashionable for ever.

One day, we will need pubs to open in order to celebrate the end of the pandemic crisis and hotels to reside at to enjoy with our families. We will need leisure businesses more than ever before. We will crowd out the cinemas and theatres and sign up in our droves to the gyms, in a bid to lose the lockdown weight that we will inevitably put on.


The surge to these businesses will be huge. And the emergency telephone hotline to Tony’s, for fresh eggs, will be no more. And you will have seen everything that Netflix has to offer anyway.

The busiest times for us, as a business, is just after the Summer and Christmas holidays. We see a surge in people looking to sell their business and a surge in people looking to buy. That 1.3 million average unique visitors to the site becomes 1.8m in January (after Christmas) and in October (after the Summer holidays).

Buying or selling a business is one of those key life-changing events that seem to go hand in hand with job changes, house moves and career changes. After this crisis, we will see the mother of all surges.

Marcus Markou

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