The pandemic last year led to the permanent closure of 9,930 sites, with only 3,955 opening for the first time, according to the latest Market Recovery Monitor from CGA and AlixPartners, resulting in a net decline of 5,975 sites in 2020. This represents a 5.1% contraction in the market since the end of 2019, and a 175% increase on the 2,171 fall in the number of sites that year.
It means that for every new opening in the market last year there were 2.5 closures - close to double the ratio of 1.3 in 2019, according to the findings.
The Market Recovery Monitor also highlights the impact of the pandemic on the casual dining sector, where total site numbers dropped by 9.7% last year, with 3.8 permanent closures for every new opening. The community, food and high street pub segments all saw numbers fall between 3.9% and 5.1%.
“Our report takes stock of the huge damage wreaked by the pandemic on the licensed sector in 2020,” says Karl Chessell, CGA’s business unit director for hospitality operators and food, EMEA.
“With stop-start trading for much of 2020 and a widespread shutdown during what should have been a bumper Christmas, nearly 10,000 licensed venues have not been able to make it through, and it is sadly inevitable that thousands more casualties will follow.”
“After such a bleak Christmas it is difficult to be optimistic about the market. But consumers are desperate to get back to eating and drinking out, and we can be confident that footfall and sales will return when the sector can finally reopen. In the meantime, the case for government support over the next few months is urgent and compelling.”
2020 a 'devastating year' for pubs
Reacting to the figures, the British Beer & Pub Association say they show just how badly affected the Coronavirus has had on the pub trade.
“These figures show what a devastating year 2020 was for pubs. Our sector is far from out the woods yet though and it continues to fight for its very survival through the pandemic in 2021. We fear things could actually get much worse before they get better for our pubs and brewers,” says its chief executive Emma McClarkin.
“Given this latest evidence showing how the Covid crisis and lockdown is ripping pubs away from their communities for good, it is more important than ever that the Government backs our local pubs and brewers. Pubs are the heart of our communities and have a vital role to play in the economic recovery. If they are to survive the current onslaught they face though they need backing from Government.
“This means grants delivered to them immediately before it’s too late. It also means reopening properly along with a stimulus package that helps pubs to thrive including extensions to the Business Rates holiday and VAT cut, as well as a beer duty cut.”
Businesses, their funders, landlords and other stakeholders urgently need certainty and a roadmap to reopening, say the report’s authors, with restrictions unlikely to be lifted until Easter at the earliest. “There are better days to come, but the sector will be in survival mode for some time yet,” says Chessell.