Can university areas boost licensed premises?

By Alice Leader contact

- Last updated on GMT

Fruitful freshers: university areas see a rise in pub and bar numbers
Fruitful freshers: university areas see a rise in pub and bar numbers

Related tags: University, Pub

New university students are nearing the end of their first term so, expectedly, many would have scoped out the best pubs and bars to establish their ‘go-to’ venue by now.

But, despite reports that Gen Z are drinking less than previous generations – according to CGA and AlixPartners’ Market Growth Monitor August 2019 – student-heavy areas are proving beneficial to the sector.

Key university areas have 5% more licensed premises than they had five years ago, compared to Britain, as a whole, which has 5.3% fewer sites.

Eight closures a day

In June 2019, the country had 116,880 pubs, bars, restaurants and other licensed venues – 2,920 fewer than 12 months earlier, and equivalent to exactly eight net closures a day.

But while Britain’s food-led premises only rose 1.5% over a five-year period, there has been an 11.4% growth in food-led premises over the same time-frame in university areas.

CGA client director Chris Jeffrey said: “Of course, the trend isn’t just about the universities.

“It also reflects the growing reputation of many big cities for eating out and moves by big pub and bar brands to target city centres rather than suburbs and towns.

“But it does suggest that university vicinities are vibrant areas, and that students remain a vital target market for operators, despite reports that they are spending and drinking less than previous generations.”

Diversified and intensified

CGA’s Outlet Index shows that there are no fewer than 993 licensed premises within a half-mile radius of the London School of Economics, for instance; 299 are the same distance from the University of Edinburgh, and 283 from Liverpool John Moores University.

The report also showed that the number of nightclub venues has sunk by 12.2% in the past 12 months but the educational and entertainment segment has seen new openings.

There has been a 1% increase in sites at seats of education, such as student unions or bars on university premises in the past year – there were a total of 774 sites recorded in June 2019.

Jeffrey continued: “With interest in experience and entertainment-led nights out rising, competition in the traditional ‘big night out’ space has clearly diversified and intensified.”

Related topics: Marketing

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