Number of pubs in England & Wales reaches record low

By Rebecca Weller contact

- Last updated on GMT

Record low: number of pubs in England and Wales falls to below 40,000 for first time (Credit: Getty/AndyRoland)
Record low: number of pubs in England and Wales falls to below 40,000 for first time (Credit: Getty/AndyRoland)

Related tags: Property, Legislation, ukhospitality, Finance, Coronavirus, Government

The number of English and Welsh pubs fell below 40,000 for the first time during the first half of 2022, having fallen by 7,107 in the past 10 years, new research from real estate adviser Altus Group has revealed.

According to the research, which considered pubs liable for business rates including those vacant and being offered to let, the overall number of pubs in England and Wales fell to 39,973 at the end of the first half of the year, down 200 compared with 40,173 at the end of the 2021 calendar year. 

Cost of doing business crisis 

Altus Group UK president Robert Hayton said: “While pubs proved remarkably resilient during the pandemic, they’re now facing new headwinds grappling with the cost of doing business crisis through soaring energy costs, inflationary pressures and tax rises.” 

The data showed the South-East region had the most pubs as of 30 June 2022 (5,724) while the North-East had the least (1,972), however, the West Midlands saw the biggest decline in venues between 31 December 2021 and June 2022, falling from 3,979 to 3,951.

31st December 2021

30th June 2022

H1 2022

Region

Number of Properties

Number of Properties

Difference

East

3,766

3,742

24

East Midlands

3,610

3,590

20

London

3,604

3,580

24

North East

1,983

1,972

11

North West

5,361

5,344

17

South East

5,739

5,724

15

South West

4,726

4,703

23

Wales

3,060

3,040

20

West Midlands

3,979

3,951

28

Yorkshire/Humberside

4,345

4,327

18

TOTAL

40,173

39,973

200

Source: real estate adviser, Altus Group

Furthermore, Altus claimed the overall number of pubs in England and Wales a decade ago stood at 47,080, but now many pubs have been lost forever and have disappeared from the communities they once served, having either been demolished or converted into homes or offices.

This comes as a survey conducted by the British Institute of Innkeeping (BII), the British Beer & Pub Association (BBPA) and UKHospitality (UKH), revealed last week just 37% of pubs were currently turning a profit​. 

UKH CEO Kate Nicholls said: “These figures are truly shocking but will come as no surprise to many in the industry. The overwhelming burden of taxation – particularly business rates - and red tape will have proved too much for many licensees. 

Intensified distress 

“The pandemic intensified the distress many business owners were facing, and in many cases business support was not enough to keep them afloat. While these are pub closures, there has been similar – sometimes worse - levels of closure across restaurants, nightclubs, and broader hospitality.

“The current economic crisis increases the chances of further decline, with soaring costs in energy, food and drink, a higher VAT rate, falling consumer confidence and an acute labour shortage. For businesses struggling to repay Covid-related debt this could simply be too much.

“We need the Government to take urgent steps to remove barriers to growth, help to tackle the cost crisis we’re facing and support more people into work and training. Without this help, we could see thousands more pubs lost from their communities in the next few years.”

Related topics: Rebuilding the Pub Sector

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