Pub sales plummet 84% on first post-lockdown weekend

By Stuart Stone

- Last updated on GMT

'Perilous' outlook: 'The tier restrictions that have been unfairly placed on our pubs are killing them,' BBPA chief executive Emma McClarkin said
'Perilous' outlook: 'The tier restrictions that have been unfairly placed on our pubs are killing them,' BBPA chief executive Emma McClarkin said

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A British Beer & Pub Association (BBPA) survey suggests that more than half of operators expect to close pubs that re-opened after England’s second national lockdown if trade doesn’t improve in the coming weeks.

According to BBPA figures, overall sales across all pubs in the UK over the weekend of 5 and 6 December were 84% lower than the same time last year as operators adjusted to the Government’s more stringent alert system. 

As reported by The Morning Advertiser (MA)​, while pubs and bars in tier one – just 729 sites or around one-in-50 of England’s pubs​​  – can open provided they offer table service-only, call last orders at 10pm and empty by 11pm​​ , those in both tiers two and three face degrees of enforced closure.

The same BBPA survey found that only 4-in-10 pubs opened across the UK under said restrictions, which kicked in on 2 December after England emerged by its second national lockdown, with just over half of operators (53%) expecting further closures in the coming weeks.  

These figures come just days after The MA’s​ readers took to social media​ to share their experience of the new tiered restrictions, with a large number revealing stifled trade figures.  

For example, publican Paul Gibbs, who is operating in tier two, commented that his site’s trade was down 70% under the Government’s new restrictions, while fellow operators Ade Fowles and Dave Galea revealed that their tier two figures were down 75% and 80% respectively. 

Lisa Aubery-Cosslett added that trade at her small independent pub in a rural, tier two village is down around 60%, while Michelle Powell said that her pub lost three quarters of their meal bookings for December within three days of their placement in tier two.  

Truly ‘madness’ 

According to the British Beer & Pub Association’s chief executive Emma McClarkin, the pub sector’s latest trading figures paint a “perilous” pub picture for the festive season.

“The tier restrictions that have been unfairly placed on our pubs are killing them,” she explained. “This must change, or thousands of pubs simply won’t survive.  

“How else can the Government expect our pubs to survive if they cannot open or operate properly? It is cruel and unfair on hardworking publicans up and down the country who have more than played their part in fighting the virus.   

“Christmas should be a time where we can enjoy one another’s company in the pub round a warm fire and with a fresh pint in hand,” she continued. “Christmas sadly just won’t be the same this year without our pubs being able to open properly.  

McClarkin, who recently appeared on an Instagram broadcast ​with celebrity pub operator Tom Kerridge and The MA's​ editor Ed Bedington to address some of the issues facing the trade, added that the new restrictions are “knocking the stuffing” out of pubs’ Christmas trade.

“It truly is madness when you consider cinemas, theatres and sports venues can still open and serve alcohol,” she said.

“It’s simple. Either the Government reduces these extreme restrictions, so pubs have a fighting chance of survival, or they recognise the damage they are doing to our pubs and provide them with the proper level of grants they need.  

“Our pubs have invested over £500m in becoming Covid-secure and are safe. Pub goers visiting their local this Christmas are safe.”

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