The Office of National Statistics (ONS) has published figures that show more than 11,000 pubs have closed in the past 10 years, which is a reduction of almost one in four of the total number of pubs across the country.
While it is easy to think that these figures show a dangerous downward trend for the pub industry, the figures also reveal that the overall turnover of pubs has remained steady since 2008 and that there are now 6% more jobs in pubs and bars than there were 11 years ago.
Cities and popular holiday spots have fared the best with increases in the number of pubs over the years but areas on the outskirts of larger cities have fared the worst. So what does this all mean?
The licensing landscape has become more challenging with the introduction of cumulative impact zones both within and outside city centres making licences harder to obtain or extend. The introduction of late-night levies across some entire authority areas have also added an extra burden to the balance sheet. Add these factors to increases in business rates and the reports that a younger generation prefer not to drink and are more likely to stay at home and it becomes easy to see how the figures have come about.
While the numbers show that small pubs have suffered, larger pubs appear to have absorbed the customers of their smaller, now-closed, counterparts. Larger operators can take advantage of economies of scale and though the increase in employment has been within the larger pub sector, smaller pubs should not lose hope.
There are still many customers looking for good quality, innovative concepts that offer an experience. If you are a small operator looking to future-proof your business, considering the style of your offer can set you apart from the larger pub crowd. Checking your premises licence for any restrictive conditions is the best place to start when considering any changes or new concepts.
A chat with a friendly licensing officer and police officer can also give you a steer upon how any proposed changes would be received. You may be only a few weeks away from being able to convert a struggling small pub into a new talking point for your local community.
For any legal enquiries please visit Poppleston Allen's website.