Pubs in Decline

Is This the End for The British Pub?

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The Pub Industry is in deep trouble

Lets face it, British pubs have been in decline for a number of years with over 15,000 pubs closing since the turn of the Millennium, a combination of factors has lead to the demise of UK pubs with many Landlords blaming the pub companies that hike up the rents and charge exorbitant prices for beers and larger’s, as under the terms of their tenancy agreement have to buy all their beer through the pub company at a much higher price than they can on the open market.

As if the situation wasn’t bad enough, in 2020, along came Covid-19 and now the spread of corona virus is having a shattering effect on hospitality industry as every pub in Britain finds itself  in a fight for survival.

It’s very sad and very frightening! How can we navigate through this crisis

The Hospitality sector accounts for nearly 10% of UK  employment with thousands of businesses and millions of jobs now on the line, the corona virus now headline news causing alarm bells to ring, what can be done to save the British pub before it disappears into extinction.

Although the Government has offered  grants and loans to prop up the hospitality industry, for many publicans there’s a growing fear that this won’t be enough to save their businesses.

“What’s the point of having a business if you can’t do business!” 

The closure of the pubs also has a dramatic and serious effect on the community, especially for some older people that live alone and depend on their local pub for a social experience, to be around people creates comfort for many and can diminish the feeling of loneliness

Pubs are deemed an important part of the UK; an article in Time stated they improve community engagement and are the third most popular tourist activity. Research from the University of Oxford suggests moderate alcohol consumption may improve wellbeing, due to the social interaction involved in having a drink with friends at the pub.

Despite this, pub numbers in the UK have been in steady decline. The data, taken from the British Beer and Pub Association (BBPA), and the Office for National Statistics (ONS), shows this decline varies regionally, and according to the type of pub ownership. Perhaps surprisingly, employment in pubs has not fallen, but slightly increased in recent years.

The ONS data is used for the regional statistics. Its count includes the numbers of pubs and bars around the UK.

A 2014 report by the Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA) found that the fall in pub numbers was due to:

  • Regulations such as the 2007 smoking ban.
  • Economic factors such as the 2008 recession.
  • Increased taxation.
  • Reduced alcohol consumption. Studies show that increasing numbers of 16 to 24-year-old’s are choosing not to drink alcohol.

The upside

The upside of Covid-19 virus and the current situation makes it an ideal time to draft a new business plan and seek to improve terms of tenancy agreements with the pub companies, as the pub companies business model largely depends on landlords making enough money to pay the rent.

Talk to your pub company 

The pub companies own 14,000 of the UK’s pubs, the pub companies often viewed by the tenants as the enemy, really don’t want to see the publicans fail in this difficult time so it’s important to talk to your pub company and see what help they can offer you by way of catering equipment to boost your takeaway food and beer sales and create new opportunity and new ways to make money.

Tom Kerridge on mission to save the British pub in new BBC series

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