23% of UK pubs have closed since 2008

Almost a quarter of pubs in the UK have closed in the last decade, however the turnover of pubs has held up, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

spirits in a bar
Number of UK pubs and bars drops by 23% in 10 years

According to the Economies of Ale report, more than 11,000 (23%) pubs have closed in the UK in the last 10 years, falling from around 50,000 pubs in 2008 to around 39,000 pubs in 2018.

The data shows that it is mainly small pubs that are disappearing.

However, the ONS noted that while a large number of pubs have closed, the remaining pubs and bars “appear to have soaked up the custom” from the closed sites.

Many areas on the edges of big cities, and in the commuter belt, have witnessed the biggest declines in the number of pubs. Areas close to London such as Barking and Dagenham, Newham and Luton now have fewer than half the pubs they did in 2001.

The study also says that there are now 6% more jobs in pubs and bars than there were in 2008. This was largely attributed to bigger pubs, which may have more staff to “increasingly focus” on serving food.

The number of independently-owned larger pubs is “steadily rising” while small pub chains have moved away from smaller sites to focus on medium and large venues.

UK Hospitality chief executive Kate Nicholls said: “Looking at this data, it is clear that pubs are facing challenges, but that they are also crucial providers of jobs around the UK. The new report underlines the need for support from government to ensure that vital businesses are not squeezed further.

“Almost one quarter of pubs have closed since 2008 and, with costs continuing to increase, many of them are unlikely to ever reopen. Turnover has also remained stagnant for the sector since the recession and is significantly lower than the pre-recession high, despite customer spend remaining relatively stable. This is a sure sign that costs are continuing to increase, and margins squeezed as a result.

“The new report from the ONS is another reminder that, despite the best efforts of the sector to provide jobs, unless rising costs are addressed, pubs will continue to close.”

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Author: Nicola Carruthers {authorlink}