Food & Drink
There are now less than 40,000 pubs left in England and Wales
1 year ago
There are now fewer pubs in England and Wales than ever before, according to analysis that sheds light on the ruinous impact of the coronavirus pandemic and soaring business costs.
The total number of pubs dropped below 40,000 during the first half of 2022, a loss of more than 7,000 since a decade ago.
Pubs that have disappeared from communities have been demolished or converted into other buildings like homes and offices, the research from real estate advisers Altus Group says.
The hospitality sector has faced immense challenges in recent years as it recovered from the pandemic, which saw national lockdowns causing closures and reduced demand.
But the researchers suggest that while pubs managed to battle through Covid-19, they are now facing a fresh challenge thanks to record-high inflation and an energy crisis.
Altus Group’s UK president Robert Hayton said:
“Whilst pubs proved remarkably resilient during the pandemic, they’re now facing new headwinds, grappling with the cost-of-doing-business crisis through soaring energy costs, inflationary pressures and tax rises.”
Two hundred pubs vanished from English and Welsh communities from the end of 2021 up to the end of June, taking the total number down to 39,973 pubs.
The West Midlands saw the biggest drop of 28 in just half a year, followed by London and the East of England, which both lost 24.
Earlier this year we spoke to Liverpool Land Lady Fiona Hornsby who runs The Bridewell and Denbigh Castle:
“The Bridewell is steady because we are surrounded by restaurants and residential neighbours.
“It’s The Denbigh and all the pubs around Dale Street, Castle Street, and Tithebarn Street, those closer to the city centre and the business district, that are feeling it most now because no-one is in the office. They didn’t have all the works dos, and workers aren’t popping in to celebrate people’s birthdays like they normally do.
“A return to work and city centre offices would make a huge difference to them.”
“People come into pubs and restaurants for the contact, and we have all struggled over the last two years without that,” Fiona says. “But we still talk to people, they can come and have a laugh, they can have a pint, and no-one needs to be on their own. We ARE the friendliest city in the land!
“Pubs provide jobs and raise a lot of money for charity, so there’s another knock-on effect if people aren’t going in them. We are part of the community and it will be nice to think we can get back to that.”
Pubs in the overall count are those that must pay business rates, including those vacant and being offered to let.
According to research from the British Beer and Pub Association, British Institute of Innkeeping and UKHospitality, only 37% of hospitality businesses are turning a profit.
The rising costs of energy, goods and labour were identified as the biggest factors behind falling profits.
The hospitality industry has called on the Government to provide more support.
Emma McClarkin, chief executive of the British Beer and Pub Association, said:
“When pubs are forced to close it’s a huge loss to the local community, and these numbers paint a devastating picture of how pubs are being lost in villages, towns and cities across the country.
“As a sector we have just weathered the hardest two years in memory, and we now face the challenge of extreme rising costs, with only one in three hospitality businesses currently profitable.
“It’s essential that we receive relief to ease these pressures or we really do risk losing more pubs year on year.”
In the past week, pub bosses have warned of the impact of rail strikes on sales for hospitality firms, adding to the existing problems of price increases and waning consumer demand.
The founder of City Pub Group in London, Clive Watson, said in June that he could have lost as much as 25% of usual sales as industrial action led people to cancel outings.