The UK-wide survey of 1,250 rural people by NFU Mutual found that over a third (35%) said they had seen the closure of a local pub or shop in their rural community over the last 12 months, with only 2% reporting a new pub and 11% new shop opening.
A fifth of rural dwellers questioned for NFU Mutual’s Countryside Living Index said that the closure of their local pub had directly reduced opportunities to socialise.
And nearly one in 10 said they now have to travel by car, incurring extra petrol charges, to visit alternatives venues.
Wales and the North West were the worst-hit parts of the country, with almost half of some villages losing a pub, while Northern Ireland had the highest number of rural shop closures, a survey of 1,250 rural residents showed.
Insurance firm NFU Mutual said more supermarkets were moving into rural areas, with one in five of those questioned saying a new store had opened in their area in the past 12 months.
Richard Percy, chairman of NFU Mutual, said: “As well as damaging social life, the closures of pubs and the loss of other local amenities jeopardise the work of local voluntary and support groups in areas where finding suitable community venues can be a real problem.”
The survey found that confidence in the strength of local economies was also low.