Four pubs closing per day, figures show

By James Wilmore

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Pubs Great depression Bbpa

Many villages across Britain are facing a future without pubs, after new figures revealed closures have reached a rate of 27 a week - nearly four...

Many villages across Britain are facing a future without pubs, after new figures revealed closures have reached a rate of 27 a week - nearly four every day.

The British Beer & Pub Association (BBPA) today published figures showing the current closure rate of pubs is seven times faster than in 2006 and 14 times faster than in 2005.

Ahead of next week's Budget, the group said it was "no time to place further regulatory or tax pressures" on pubs and called for a tax freeze.

Rob Hayward, chief executive of the BBPA, said: "Britain's pubs are grappling with spiralling costs, sinking sales, fragile consumer confidence and the impact of the smoking ban.

"These figures show the stark reality of the pub trade today, in contrast to the hype surrounding the myth of '24-hour drinking' and extended pub opening hours.

"Pub closures at this rate are threatening an important hub of our social fabric and community history. What we need to stop the decline is support from Government and the general public."

During 2007, 1,409 pubs closed and pub numbers were down 216 in 2006 - four a week, following a fall of 102 in 2005 - equating to two a week.

Urban pubs have been hardest hit, with two per cent of all urban pubs closing in the last six months, the BBPA said. Pubs without the room to provide an attractive outside area for smokers, and those that are not heavily focused on food sales, have faced particular difficulties, it added.

The figures echo those released by the Campaign for Real Ale last year which showed 56 pubs a month are closed permanently, 80 per cent of which are urban.

The BBPA said beer sales in pubs are now at their lowest level since the Great Depression of the 1930s and pubs are selling 14 million fewer pints a day than they did when sales were at their peak in 1979. In addition, rising costs in brewing, food and energy, have hit the trade hard.

Total alcohol sales in pubs have fallen by around six per cent in the last 12 months, while there has been a surge in food sales, profit margins are being squeezed because of the additional costs associated with selling food.

"Some commentators would have us believe that the pub trade has faced a bonanza following the introduction of the Licensing Act in 2005," said Mr Hayward. "Nothing could be further from the truth.

"The industry is facing very difficult trading conditions, which is resulting in the closure of hundred of pubs across the country.

"This is no time to place further regulatory or tax pressures on a great national and community asset.

"A vital part of the British economy and social life is under the most severe strain it has faced for decades. Increasing these pressure and costs will only result in the loss of more of Britain's much-loved community pubs."

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