(Bloomberg) — The number of pubs that are closing rose dramatically in the first half of the year in England and Wales.
A total of 383 pubs were demolished or converted to other businesses, from January to June 2023, compared to 386 in the entirety of 2022, according to data from real estate company Altus Group. The sharp drop meant that on average, more than two pubs closed every single day in England and Wales.
After the closures, the overall number of pubs in England and Wales stood at 39,404 at the end of the second quarter of 2023. Wales was the worst affected region: 52 pubs shut in the first half of the year. Also badly impacted was London, where 46 closed.
Pubs have had a difficult few years, impacted by pandemic-related closures as well as staff shortages, rising costs and changing consumer habits. Around a quarter of British pubs have shut since 2000, according to the British Beer and Pub Association.
The rapid rate of closures led to warnings about looming tax increases for pubs. Altus Group has called on the government to support the industry in the Autumn Statement, due on Nov. 22. In the current tax year, pubs receive a 75% reduction on their business rates up to £110,000, a benefit that is set to end on March 31 2024. This comes as business rates are due to increase in April in line with inflation, which could add more than 6% to pubs’ bills, according to the company.
“With energy costs up 80% year-on-year in a low-growth, high-inflation and high interest rates environment, the last thing pubs need is an average business rates hike of £12,385 next year,” said Alex Probyn, president of property tax at Altus.
In the Spring Budget, Chancellor Jeremy Hunt granted pubs relief on the alcohol duty charged on draught beer, meaning a pint would be taxed by 11 pence less. Some pubs are also looking to increase revenue by imposing surge pricing on pints at crowded times. Last week, Stonegate Group, the UK’s biggest pub operator, announced they would introduce “dynamic pricing” to pints and other drinks at 800 of its 4,500 locations.