Pubs face festive dilemma after ‘£155m loss’

By Gary Lloyd

- Last updated on GMT

Sophie’s choice: pubs’ survival could come down to winter World Cup boost (credit: Getty/FG Trade Latin)
Sophie’s choice: pubs’ survival could come down to winter World Cup boost (credit: Getty/FG Trade Latin)

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UK pubs have been left with a choice between hosting Christmas parties or screening the football World Cup after missing out on a £155m booty in sales for the tournament that would usually have taken place in summer.

A report from insurance provider Simply Business found UK pubs would have sold an additional 38m pints of beer if England reached the World Cup final, which it claimed made up the £155m total through the average pint price in the UK being £4.07.

Even if England failed to reach the final, pubs would have still expected to see 14m extra pints poured during the group stages alone (3m to 5m pints per England group game), meaning pub owners across the UK would still have missed out on a guaranteed summer boost of up to £57m.

Greatest threats to survival

With pubs continuing to struggle, the report showed more than half (54%) of small and medium-sized businesses in the UK say that rising fuel and energy costs are one of their greatest threats to survival, with three in five (59%) wanting a review of the energy price cap.

The company added the hospitality sector was already among the hardest hit by Covid-19, losing an eye-watering average of £40,000 each due to the pandemic – almost double the £22,000 average losses reported by UK small businesses. Pub and brewing businesses across the UK are now at risk of closure due to out-of-control energy bills, with upwards of 300% price hikes reported.

Though the winter competition will still attract customers, there is concern the full effect of World Cup trade will not be felt, with pubs already naturally seeing an upturn in trade due to the festive period. The change in timing for the tournament has left a number of business owners concerned that they will have to choose between Christmas parties and World Cup viewings.

Lost revenue

Ben Stanford who runs the George & Dragon, in Much Wenlock, Shropshire, said: “The lack of summer tournament football has resulted in lost revenue, as we would have been showing all of the home nations games. I’m not sure how the rest of the year is going to pan out – the impending increase in energy costs could result in the pub closing all together. With the current cost-of-living situation, I’m not sure we’ll make much extra by showing the football in December.”

Simply Business UK chief executive Alan Thomas added: “Having been hit disproportionately by the impact of the pandemic, [pub operators] are now having to contend with soaring costs and rising energy prices – for many, this summer has been about survival as their recovery from the impact of the pandemic continues.

“This makes the lack of a summer World Cup an even bigger blow. Now more than ever, small businesses needed a boost. The surge in trade would have come at a critical time for hospitality owners.

“Looking ahead, as the winter World Cup overlaps with the festive season – another crucial time of year for the industry – pub owners will be forced to prioritise. For many, profits will inevitably be down, with publicans seeing their two busiest times of the year rolled into one.”

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