News analysis

What can be done about the decline in pub numbers?

The number of pubs in England and Wales has hit its lowest on record, according to new analysis that lays bare the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on the sector – and more recently, the burden of rising energy costs.

Statistics from the Office of National Statistics (ONS) published in December 2019 said that in the year to March 2019 there was a net gain of 320 pubs – the first increase in the ONS stats since 2009. However, the latest analysis – undertaken by real estate consultancy Altus Group – says that the number of pubs across England and Wales has fallen to 39,970, a fall of 7,000 since 2012. That is the lowest number since Altus started keeping records in 2005.

That longer-term trend has been due in part to changing behaviour, including younger people drinking less, and to supermarkets selling (relatively) cheap alcohol. The hospitality industry has also made frequent pleas about the tax burden faced by businesses, as well as rising costs within the sector.

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