Pubs are closing in record numbers due to the combined impact of the recession, beer duty rises and the smoking ban, new figures show.
Seven pubs are calling last orders for the last time every day, according to the British Beer & Pub Association (BBPA). During the first six months of the year, 52 pubs closed on average every week, up a third on the 39 closures a week in the last six months of 2008.
According to new figures compiled by CGA Strategy for the BBPA, 2,377 pubs have shut their doors in the past 12 months, at the cost of 24,000 jobs.
The totals hide a marked divergence in the fortunes of traditional and branded boozers. While traditional ‘wet-led' community pubs have been hard hit by the smoking ban and rising joblessness, closing at the rate of 40 a week, branded pubs and café style bars are increasing, with two openings a week.
"Food seems key to some sustainability," the BBPA said.
"Pubs that focus mostly on selling drink are shutting up shop at the rate of 51 a week, while those that focus more on food are closing at one a week."
Overall, pubs appear to be in long-term decline. There are now 53,466 pubs in Britain, compared with 58,600 three years ago and few analysts believe the sector will not be toasting any successes for years.
The BBPA warned pubs would experience a further squeeze in the next 12 months as VAT increases from 15 to 17.5 per cent in January and the Government imposes a 2 per cent above-inflation rise in beer duty in March as part of its beer tax escalator.
"The recession is proving extremely tough for Britain's pubs. However, those economic pressures have been made much worse by a Government that has continued to pile on tax and regulatory burdens," complained the BBPA's chief executive David Long.
"While every other sector seems to receive a sympathetic ear and a tax payer funded handout from Government to tide them through the downturn, all we are getting is a deaf ear and a higher tax bill."Reuse content