Number of pubs in financial distress increases by 23%

By Rebecca Weller contact

- Last updated on GMT

6,106 pubs were in financial distress in December 2021: a 23% increase when compared with 2019 (Credit: Getty/Dimensions)
6,106 pubs were in financial distress in December 2021: a 23% increase when compared with 2019 (Credit: Getty/Dimensions)

Related tags: Finance, coronavirus, Legislation

More than 6,000 pubs and bars were in significant financial distress in December 2021, research by Real Business Rescue has revealed.

Figures from the insolvency practitioners showed 6,106 pubs and bars experienced financial distress in Q4 2021, a 23% increase when compared with Q4 2019. 

The south east was the region with the highest numbers of pubs and bars in financial distress, one in six (16%), while the lowest was the north west with 669.



Number of bars and pubs in significant distress in Q4 2021


South East












North West


Worst Months yet

Real Business Rescue national online business operations director Shaun Barton said: “Bars and pubs have missed out on one of their most profitable months of the year as December saw a rise in Covid-19 cases leading to cancelled Christmas parties and other social events put on ice.

“Following this, our research shows the hospitality sector has hit its worst months yet since before the pandemic, with more than 6,100 bars and pubs in significant financial distress. This is an increase of 23% from the same period before the pandemic began, where we saw 1,131 fewer pubs and bars in distress.”

According to data from CGA, trade was down by an average of 30% for the sector during the second half of December 2021 when compared with 2019.

Unanswered calls for support 

The figures come as hospitality businesses face a rise in businesses rates, labour costs and a rise in VAT from 12.5% to 20% in April.

Across the sector, trade bodies including UKHospitality have called on the Government to provide further support for the sector and keep struggling pubs open.

The ‘One Voice Beer Group’, which is made up by the British Beer and Pub Association, Campaign for Real Ale and the Society of Independent Brewers, and the Independent Family Brewers of Britain, recently penned an open letter to Chancellor Rishi Sunak calling for a reduction in taxation on beer and on pubs.

Barton added: “With unanswered calls for further Government support and many jobs at risk, businesses within the hospitality sector urgently need the nation to support them where possible, as they continue to suffer from the impacts of Covid.” 

Related topics: Rebuilding the Pub Sector

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