Pub closures up 51% in first 3 months of 2024

By Gary Lloyd

- Last updated on GMT

Operating costs too high: pubs continue to shut at an alarming rate (credit: Getty/whitemay)
Operating costs too high: pubs continue to shut at an alarming rate (credit: Getty/whitemay)

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The number of pubs closing has shot up during the first three months of 2024 to 80 per month – up by a staggering 51% from the first quarter of 2023.

Analysis of official Government data shows the overall number of pubs in England and Wales, including those vacant and being offered to let, fell to 39,162 at the end of the first quarter of 2024 to 31 March down 239 compared to 39,401 at the end of 2023.

In the first quarter of 2023, 153 pubs vanished, according to commercial real estate intelligence firm Altus Group.

Sacha Lord, the night-time economy adviser for Greater Manchester, said: “Our pubs are vital to our communities, our tourism and our economy and this data is a stark reminder of the devastating impact that the cost of living crisis is having on venues, particularly the smaller, independent pubs.

“Food inflation, increasing supplier costs, unsustainable energy bills, rising rents - the financial burden on hospitality is all-encompassing. Customers may be coming in, but the costs of operating are simply too high and we must continue to bring attention to the plight of landlords across the country. 

“The north-west has one of the most vibrant night time economies in the UK, and yet our pubs are still closing at a faster rate than any other region in the UK. This is a clear signal that the current package of support being given to the sector is unsustainable. The incoming Government must recognise this as an urgent priority or risk further significant job losses across the sector.”

North-west hit hardest

The north-west region of England lost 35 pubs, the most of any region, during the first quarter of 2024.

Pubs that have ‘vanished’ from the communities that they once served have either been demolished and/or converted into other types of use such as homes, offices or even day nurseries.

Some 472 pubs called last orders for the final time during the financial year from 1 April 2023 to 31 March 2024 with Wales and the north-west seeing the most numbers of pubs ‘vanishing’ at 73 and 72 respectively.

Meanwhile, Altus said the UK’s largest pub groups and breweries have written an open letter to the leaders of the three main political parties, ahead of the general election on 4 July and to coincide with the start of Euro 2024, demanding an immediate cut in beer duty as a “first step” towards bringing the UK in line with the European average as well as demanding business rates reform.

The Conservative party promised last week to “continue to ease the burden of business rates for high street, leisure and hospitality businesses by increasing the multiplier on distribution warehouses that support online shopping over time”.

Tax risen 49% under Tory tenure

While the Labour party in their manifesto promised to replace the current business rates system saying that they would raise the same revenue but in a fairer way.

Altus Group president of property tax Alex Probyn said “the fundamental issue for business is not necessarily the system but how much tax it actually generates” and “it is a tax that has risen 49% during the past 14 years with business, across all sectors, now paying £9.48bn a year more than in 2010.”

He added: “While the pledges are welcome to drive down bills permanently for the high street, business had hoped for more detail and a timeframe in achieving this.”

Altus said the Liberal Democrats have pledged to abolishing business rates and replace them with a Commercial Landowner Levy that they say will also help high streets.

Meanwhile, business rates are devolved to Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

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