Pub numbers plunge to record low

By James McAllister

- Last updated on GMT

Pub numbers plunge to record low with 7,000 closed in 10 years

Related tags Pub & bar Coronavirus Government Pub closures ukhospitality Inflation

The number of English and Welsh pubs fell below 40,000 for the first time during the first half of 2022, research by the real estate adviser Altus Group reveals.

The overall number of pubs in England and Wales, liable for business rates, including those vacant and being offered to let, fell to 39,973 at the end of the first half of the year, down 200 compared with 40,173 at the end of the 2021 calendar year.

Over the last 10 years, pub numbers having fallen by 7,107, with 47,080 pubs recorded in June 2012 – 43,590 in England and 3,490 in Wales. 

Pubs which have ‘disappeared’ from the communities they once served have either been demolished and/or converted into other types such as homes and offices, according to Altus.

“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,” says Robert Hayton, UK president at Altus Group.

Kate Nicholls, chief executive of UKHospitality, says the figures are truly shocking, but will come as no surprise to many in the industry.

“The overwhelming burden of taxation – particularly business rates - and red tape will have proved too much for many licensees,” she says.

“The pandemic intensified the distress that many business owners were facing, and in many cases business support was not enough to keep them afloat. While these are pub closures, there has been similar – sometimes worse - levels of closure across restaurants, nightclubs and broader hospitality.

“The current economic crisis increases the chances of further decline, with soaring costs in energy, food and drink, a higher VAT rate, falling consumer confidence and an acute labour shortage. For businesses struggling to repay Covid-related debt this could simply be too much.”

Going forwards, Nicholls says the Government needs to to take urgent steps to remove barriers to growth, help to tackle the cost crisis facing businesses and support more people into work and training.

“Without this help, we could see thousands more pubs lost from their communities in the next few years.”

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