4 in 10 pubs cutting staff

By Nikkie Thatcher

- Last updated on GMT

Financial results: more than half of pubs are also reporting a drop in turnover (image: Getty/andresr)
Financial results: more than half of pubs are also reporting a drop in turnover (image: Getty/andresr)

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Some 41% of pub operators have reduced their workforce headcount over the past month, new data has shown.

Furthermore, figures from the Office of National Statistics, commissioned by accountancy firm Price Bailey revealed more than half (58%) of the 504 licensees surveyed reported falling turnover.

Some three quarters (75%) of respondents have increased prices to cover energy costs while 54% and 45% were considering hiking prices to cover more expensive raw material and labour costs respectively.

Looking ahead to the next 12 months, 39% of operators expect business performance to worsen compared to 16% who think it may improve.

Disrupted trade

Price Bailey head of insolvency and recovery Matt Howard said: “Pubs are facing soaring costs, coupled with a squeeze on the disposable income of patrons.

“The ongoing rail strikes, which hit the pub trade hard during the peak Christmas party period, made it the third year running in which the festive season was disrupted.

“Unlike with Covid, [licensees] are not being offered compensation for the disruption and the new Energy Bills Discount Scheme will see many pubs paying substantially more for energy from April. The next few months will be critical for the survival of many pubs.

“Publicans are increasingly having to restrict opening hours and scale back the services they provide to customers. Not only will it become more difficult to justify opening during off-peak hours as energy costs rise but lack of staff will compel more pubs to focus on their most profitable business hours.”

However, the accountancy firm also argued there was a rise in the number of pubs in 2022, citing data from the Office of National Statistics (ONS).

Pub numbers

These official figures showed an increase in the total number of UK pubs from 37,865 in 2021 to 38,225 in 2022 – a difference of 360.

Moreover, the number of UK pubs and bars declined year on year from 44,680 in 2010 to 38,820 in 2018 – a drop of 13.1%.

The figure recovered slightly in 2019, increasing to 39,140 but dropped again in 2020 and 2021 as lockdowns and trading restrictions were in force, resulting in many pubs shuttering.

The rise in pub numbers in 2022 highlights the second year of growth in 12 years and according to the data, the number of pubs in the UK currently stands at 38,225.

This is in contrast to analysis of data by real estate adviser Altus Group​ last year, which found the overall number of pubs, including those vacant and being offered to let, dropped to 39,787 in December 2022, a decrease of 386 against 40,173 compared to the same period in 2021.

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