High street closures alert: 'High costs' shut down 472 pubs in England and Wales in blow to economy

Wetherspoons and pouring a pint

Pub closures have risen in 2024

PA
Patrick O'Donnell

By Patrick O'Donnell


Published: 17/06/2024

- 07:59

Store closures have impacted the economies of local communities but pubs are also shutting down at an alarming rate

More than 470 pubs have closed permanently in the past year in another blow to Britain's high streets.

Communities across the UK have been forced to contend with the ongoing trend of store closures in recent years with the hospitality sector appearing to also take a hit, based on the latest data.


The number of pubs leaving towns and cities across England and Wales rose by over a third over the first months of 2024, according to official Government statistics.

This data found that 239 pubs were either demolished or converted for other uses over the three months to March 31.

As such, 80 pubs have closed each month this year in a brutal indictment of the country's economy.

This represents a 56 per cent increase on the closure of 51 pubs a month over the first quarter of 2023.

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Pint in pub

Pub bosses are calling for reform to business rates

PEXELS

According to pub sector bosses, these figures are indicative of high energy bills and inflation-hiked food costs, as well as the impact of tighter budgets and higher taxes on consumers.

Figures compiled by Atlus Group revealed the overall number of pubs in England and Wales dropped from 39,401 towards the end of last year to 39,162 by the end of March.

Notably, the North West of England lost the most pubs of any region during the quarter of 2024 with 35 closures.

Based on these statistics, a total of 472 pubs across England and Wales have left local communities for good.

Last week, the bosses of pub groups urged the main political parties to promise to slash beer duty and implement business rates reform ahead of the General Election on July 4.

The Labour Party, the Conservative Party and the Liberal Democrats have all pledged to overhaul business rates to reduce the burden on high street stores and mitigate the rate of closures.

Alex Probyn, the president of property tax at Altus Group, broke down what is at stake for business owners.

He explained “The fundamental issue for business is not necessarily the system but how much tax it actually generates.

“It is a tax that has risen 49 per cent during the last 14 years with business, across all sectors, now paying £9.48billion a year more than in 2010.

“Whilst the pledges are welcome to drive down bills permanently for the high street, business had hoped for more detail and a timeframe in achieving this.”

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Emma McClarkin, chief executive of the British Beer and Pub Association (BBPA), added: “The pub closure figures for the first quarter of this year are a reflection of the continuing high costs of doing business, especially with factors like high energy costs and food and drink inflation remaining higher than the topline inflation rate.

“Trading conditions have also not been helped with the varied weather than we have experienced, and in addition, with £1 out of every £3 being spent in pubs going directly to the taxman, the tax burden with which the beer and pub sector must grapple is another cost component which squeezes margin.

“Last week saw the publication of the various party manifestos with the parties making different pledges to reform business rates, which combine with previous promises to recognise the importance of the sector for communities and the wider economy.

“It is for this reason why it will be essential that the next Government puts in place a fiscal and regulatory framework that makes sure that the sector does not survive, but thrives.”

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