Pubs still closing but at slower rate
• Pub closures now running at 39 a week
• Closure rate down on 52 pubs a week closing in first half 2009
• Closure rate down 25 per cent on first half 2009
• Total of 2,365 pubs closed in 2009
• 24,000 jobs lost in sector in 2009
Pubs are now closing at a rate of 39 a week, down on the 52 a week closure rate in the first half of 2009, according to the latest survey from the British Beer & Pub Association (BBPA).
A net total of 1,013 pubs shut their doors for the last time between July and December 2009, with the loss of over 10,000 jobs in local communities across Britain. A total of 2,365 pubs closed during the whole of 2009.
Although these latest figures are slightly down, closures remain at historically high levels, says the BBPA. There are now 52,500 pubs in Britain – well down on the 58,600 pubs operating when the Licensing Act came into force in 2005. In addition to the loss of these vital community hubs, the Government is set to lose over £250 million in tax revenues this year, if the current closure level continues.
The slowing rate of closure is a sign that things may be starting to improve, says the BBPA, as economic conditions ease and the recessionary bite slackens. However, significant pressures on the sector remain. The BBPA warns that Government should be seeking ways to avoid intensifying those burdens. The tax burden remains a key issue. Government plans for another above inflation increase in Beer Tax in the forthcoming Budget will be a further blow to struggling licensed premises. Government should equally stop increasing the red-tape burden on the sector, which increases the complexity and cost of running a pub.
While all types of pub are closing, in the second half of 2009, the number of independently owned ‘free houses’ fell more rapidly than the number of pubs in the leased and tenanted sector. There were 576 closures among free houses (22 a week), compared with 320 among tenanted pubs (12 a week), despite the latter being far more numerous overall – the remainder of closures are among managed pubs (117 in total at a rate of five a week). The survey also reveals that a significant number of pubs were sold into the free trade, with 735 being transferred into free house ownership from July to December 2009.
The survey also confirms that ‘food led’ pubs are continuing to weather the current storm better than drink led premises, with a closure rate of just 0.6 per cent in that category (130 pubs) The closure rate among drink led pubs was over three times higher, at 2.1 per cent, or 883 net closures.
“The UK economy may be edging out of recession, but times remain very tough for pubs,” says Brigid Simmonds, Chief Executive of the Beer & Pub Association.
“Continuing pub closures, and the five per cent per cent decline in pub beer sales we reported last week, confirm that pubs are not out of the woods yet. In the current climate, the last thing pubs need is a higher tax bill in the Budget. This won’t help the public finances either, as closing pubs, job losses and falling beer sales mean less tax revenue for the Treasury.”
“Pubs make a significant and valuable contribution to both the national economy and community life. It’s time for Government to work with our industry and put into practice policies that support pubs and local communities.
With concerns about the future of many pubs still high, the BBPA is urging the public to get behind its new ‘I’m Backing the Pub’ campaign. To help ensure a more prosperous future for Britain’s much-loved locals, supporters can sign up at www.backthepub.com.
Notes to editors:
The British Beer & Pub Association is the UK’s leading organisation representing the brewing and pub sector. Its members account for 98 per cent of the beer brewed in the UK and own nearly two thirds of Britain’s 52,500 pubs.
Pub closure figures are compiled by CGA Strategy for the British Beer & Pub Association. Figures are net and include new pubs that are opened.
Beer tax was increased in the Budget of 2008, the PBR of November 2008 and the Budget of 2009 by a total of 20 per cent.
Enabling powers for a Mandatory Code of Practice were introduced in the Police & Crime Act 2009. Draft regulations setting out the detailed provisions are currently before Parliament.