Something that has always been difficult to fathom out is the precise dynamics of why some pubs succeed and others fail. Obviously being run well is a major factor, but it can’t be denied that location does play a significant part too. For example, I posted here about the Junction in Mottram, which wasn’t helped by the fact it stood in the midst of a permanent all-day traffic jam.
One of the most common misconceptions is that the presence of numerous houses nearby guarantees trade for a pub, when in fact one of the categories of pub that has seen most closures is stand-alone estate pubs, often leaving vast residential areas without any pubs at all. On the other hand, pubs often seem to thrive in clusters – for example, the centres of Didsbury and Chorlton have significantly more pubs and bars than they did twenty years ago. Another type of location which has seen a major attrition of pubs is just off town centres, where they are caught in a kind of limbo between the shopping area and where people actually live, and may well in the past have depended on trade from local businesses which is no longer what it was.
And neither is it a given that having a prominent site helps a pub, when many in that category have closed (such as the White Lion in Withington) while others well off the beaten track prosper.
I have also often heard people struggling to understand how pubs can succeed that are difficult to reach by public transport, when many obviously do without being the regular haunt of lawbreakers.
Maybe a problem with understanding why pubs succeed or fail is that everyone tends to assume that other people’s patterns of pubgoing are much the same as their own, whereas in fact they will in many cases be radically different.