UK pub numbers increase for the first time in a decade
According to the Office of National Statistics (ONS), 2019 saw an increase in the number of UK pubs and bars for the first time in a decade.
The rise marked a dramatic turnaround compared with the previous nine years, during which the UK pub network declined by an average of 732 each year, comparable data showed.
“The reduction of pubs over the last decade has been heart-breaking, following devastating changes to business taxes and alcohol duties, but I hope these figures signpost a reversal of fortunes,” said Patrick Clover, chief executive of Leith-based hospitality industry software firm Stampede, which analysed the ONS figures.
Stampede said the change may be down to pubs realising they can no longer rely on the “same old regulars”, instead improving their food menus, offering accommodation and events such as live music.
Communities have also been exercising new powers to save their local from re-development while former chancellor Philip Hammond introduced relief on business rates for some pubs, although he was criticised for exaggerating the scale of the relief.
Nik Antona, chairman of real ale enthusiasts’ group Camra, said: “We welcome this data that shows a slight increase in the number of open pubs nationally. Unfortunately pubs continue to close, particularly in small or rural communities. This means the loss of the social, cultural and economic benefits that come with a well run local. To ensure pubs survive and thrive, they need a fair tax system and stability going forward.”