The number of premises licensed to sell alcohol has hit record levels - despite the increasing closures of traditional pubs - according to the latest official data.
Some 166,000 premises are currently allowed to sell alcohol, the highest figure since officials began recording them in 1905.
This is despite the fact that the rate of pub closures stands at around 30 a week.
The Department of Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) released the figures yesterday following the introduction of the second part of the mandatory code. The government said the record level had been driven by the relaxation of drinking laws in 2005.
The number of pubs, bars and nightclubs with a 24-hour licence has jumped by almost half in the last two years and supermarkets and off-licences with similar opening hours have increased by a fifth, added the DCMS.
There are now almost 85,000 venues that can sell food and drink until 5am.
There were around 166,000 alcohol licenses in operation as of March this year, compared with approximately 160,000 in 2005 and 164,000 in 2008. In 1905 there were around 123,000 licences to sell alcohol.
Of the latest figures, some 7,800 can operate for 24 hours. These include 1,000 pubs and clubs, a rise of 43 % since 2008, and 1,700 supermarkets and off-licences, a 21% over the same period.
There has also been a 10% increase in late night refreshment licences in the last two years to 84,900.
They allow the sale of food and drink until 5am but will include outlets that do not sell alcohol such as late night takeaways and cafés.
A total of 836 licences lapsed in 2009/10, compared with just 232 in 2006/7, 423 in 2007/8 and 591 in 2008/9, which has been put down to the recession.
The government is about to overhaul the Licensing Act, in a move that has prompted widespread outrage from the industry because of the draconian measures that are being mooted.
These include, giving anyone, anywhere in the country the right to object to licences; the removal of the right to appeal licensing decisions; giving councils the right to impose blanket conditions and the introduction of a late night levy.