New government data has unveiled a startling 50% surge in the demolition or conversion of pubs across England and Wales during the latest quarter.
The new figures underscore the harsh reality faced by many in the hospitality industry, with 230 pubs vanishing from the landscape in the three months leading up to June 30.
Mounting pressures brought on by escalating operational costs and a tightening grip on consumer budgets, are to blame.
Firms that pay business rates – charged on most non-domestic properties, including pubs, offices and holiday homes – will see an inflation-linked increase next April unless there is government intervention, adding more than 6% to bills in 2024.
Compiled by real estate consultancy Altus Group, the data reveals a 50.3% hike in pub closures compared to the preceding quarter, where 153 establishments met a similar fate.
Two pubs bid farewell in the first half of 2023
These findings translate into a heart-wrenching scenario where more than two pubs bid farewell to their local communities each day throughout the first half of the year.
As of the end of June 2023, the overall count of pubs in England and Wales, encompassing those left vacant and available for lease, dwindled to a sobering 39,404. That’s 383 pubs that faced the wrecking ball or underwent conversions into alternative spaces, such as residential units, offices, or even day nurseries during the initial six months of the year.
This disconcerting trend represents a stark acceleration when contrasted with the mere 386 pubs that disappeared throughout the entirety of 2022.
Regionally, the impact has been uneven, with Wales experiencing the most substantial loss of pubs, with 52 establishments vanishing from the landscape. Meanwhile, both London and the North West bore the brunt of 46 pub closures each.
These findings cast a pall over the future of traditional British pubs and their role as community hubs, as the industry grapples with the ongoing challenges posed by economic pressures and changing consumer preferences.