Pub closure stats show 'uphill battle' faced by firms

By Rebecca Weller

- Last updated on GMT

Catastrophic predicament: industry leaders react to pub closure figures (Credit: Getty/dorian2013)
Catastrophic predicament: industry leaders react to pub closure figures (Credit: Getty/dorian2013)

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The growing number of business closures in the sector demonstrate the “sheer weight” of escalating costs and the “catastrophic predicament” faced by many hospitality firms, industry leaders have said.

Recent data from CGA by NIQ revealed the number of licensed premises ​has decreased by almost a third (31%) in the past 20 years, meaning there have been 44,000 net closures since 2003 – equivalent to just over six closures a day for the past two decades.

The Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA) national chairman Nik Antona told The Morning Advertiser the figures “lay bare the mountain firms are being forced to climb” amid ongoing cost-of-living crisis.

He said: “Under the sheer weight of escalating costs, uncertainty over sky high energy bills in the next year and unjust business rates, many simply can no longer afford to continue this uphill battle.”

In addition, Antona implored Chancellor Jeremy Hunt to support the sector in this month’s Autumn Statement, warning of a “continual rise” in the closure of licensed premises without further backing.

Challenging economic outlook 

The chairman called for the Government to reduce draught beer and cider duty, scrap “unnecessary” rules preventing draught takeaway sales, replace the business rate relief scheme and take action on energy supply and pricing issues.

“To survive and thrive, the industry needs all the help it can get, but for some, evidently, it is already too late”, he continued.

According to the figures, the end of September 2023 the total number of licensed premises in Britain stood at 99,916 - a 30.6% fall from 144,055 recorded by CGA in 2003 and the first time it entered five figures.

Figures from the British Beer & Pub Association (BBPA) last week also revealed some 750 pubs were likely​ to close their doors for good in the first half of next year without an extension to business rates relief later this month.

Night-Time Economy Adviser for Greater Manchester Sacha Lord added the impact of the Autumn Statement should “not be underestimated”, claiming hospitality firms “cannot be sustained” in this “challenging economic outlook”.

Long-term strategies 

Moreover, Night-Time Industries Association (NTIA) CEO Michael Kill said the data “unequivocally illustrates the sector's catastrophic predicament” in the face of rising costs and business closures.

In addition, Kill claimed “frustration and anger” were “mounting” among industry leaders and business owners towards the Government, urging the Chancellor to address the “dire state” of the sector with “urgency”.

Echoing Antona, Kill also called for the Chancellor to extend business rates relief and reduce VAT to 12.5% in the upcoming Autumn Statement, adding this was a “matter of survival, not profit”.

He continued: “The Government and the Chancellor's persistent focus on reducing inflation through long-term strategies, despite the lack of tangible results, will inevitably impact a general election due to the perceived ignorance on their part. We are running out of time, and the feeling of being disregarded is taking its toll.”

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