last order? Number of pubs in England at historic low
A closed pub in London.
Photo: Dominic Lipinski/PA Wire/DPA
For tourists, pubs are as much a part of England as the Queen or left-hand traffic. A visit is often part of the program. But Brits are visiting the bar less and less – and there are fewer and fewer of them.
by Benedikt von Imhoff, dpa 04.07.2022, 05:42
London-. More and more pubs in England are ringing the famous Last Order bell for the last time. “last order!” Not only for bar guests, but also for the pub itself.
Analysis by property consultants Altus Group found that the number of pubs in England and Wales fell to under 40,000 in the first half of the year. That’s 7,000 fewer than a decade ago and above all: rarer than ever before.
the pub started a long time ago
The sharp drop is amazing. After all, the pub should be the soul of the community. This is where friends and family meet for a Sunday roast, where colleagues and sports groups treat themselves to a beer or two after a hard day’s work.
If you want to have a pint after work on a Thursday afternoon in central London, it takes a long time to get through the crowds to the bar. An English village is more like a pub than a church or shop – at least that is the perception of many tourists. Visits to pubs are also part of the program for many visitors.
But the numbers paint a different picture, more dramatic. The pubs have long since died out, and the corona pandemic has only intensified the trend. The reasons are manifold: a smoking ban, cheaper alcohol in supermarkets or changed drinking habits.
In addition, landlords complain about beer taxes that are among the highest in the world. British Railways strikes have also recently affected pubs, with fewer passengers and none running from city centres. Clive Watson, founder of London pub chain City Pub Group, said it cost him 25 per cent of his income.
Increased costs a big problem
Above all, however, the business is suffering from rampant inflation, which has reached its highest level in decades. Energy and material costs have exploded. According to the industry bodies British Beer and Pub Association (BBPA), British Institute of Innkeeping and UK Hospitality, just over a third (37 percent) of businesses are profitable. “As an industry, we have endured one of the toughest two years in living memory and are now faced with the challenge of skyrocketing costs,” said BBPA chief Emma McClarkin.
Instead of renting out pubs, owners have converted them into apartments or offices. Areas are often centrally located and therefore extremely attractive. Around 200 pubs have disappeared in England and Wales alone since the end of 2021, according to Altus.
The industry is now looking for state aid again – also because Corona support such as low VAT rates and frozen trade taxes have expired. “It’s important that we find relief to ease that pressure or we risk losing more pubs year after year,” she said.
“When pubs have to close, local communities suffer huge losses,” McClarkin said. In spring 2021, the think tank Localis also recognized the central role of pubs for communities. For many people, going to a pub is an opportunity to leave home and meet friends and neighbors. In other words, loneliness and social isolation can be avoided. Locals warned that the closure of pubs could endanger the social fabric, especially in rural areas.
© dpa-infocom, dpa: 220704-99-897472/10 (by Benedikt von Imhoff, dpa)