Rising costs and cheaper supermarket booze see 40 pubs vanish each month

Around 40 pubs each month called last orders in the UK over the first half of the year, as cheaper supermarket booze and rising costs continue to heap pressure on pubs.

A total of 235 pubs vanished from communities in Britain in the six months to June, according to the latest research by real estate data company Altus Group.

Although pubs continue to disappear from high streets and local communities, the rate at which they are vanishing slowed down on the back of recent government support, including a recent freeze on alcohol duty.

Pubs are vanishing, by either being demolished or being converted for other use such as homes or offices, at almost half the rate of last year, when 76 pubs disappeared each month.

Nevertheless, the number of pubs in England and Wales, liable for business rates, was 41,301 on June 30, representing a fall of 1,149 pubs over the past 18 months.

Pubs have come under pressure due to cheaper supermarket alcohol and changing leisure habits at a period of rising costs, including higher business rates and an increase in the minimum wage.

Kate Nicholls, chief executive of UK Hospitality, said it is positive that the rate of closures has slowed down but too many pubs have already been forced to close.

She said: “Cost pressures, principally extortionate business rates, are pushing too many pubs to the margins and high streets are being squeezed.

“We have heard various members of the Government say they wish to stimulate investment in high streets and support businesses.

“If they are serious, then they need to tackle these increasing costs – otherwise, more pubs will close.”

Alex Probyn, president of expert services at Altus, said that Government measures to support the future of pubs may be having an impact.

He said: “Since legislative changes in May 2017, pubs looking to respond to the changing market have been able to expand their food offer without the cost and uncertainty of having to apply for planning permission.

“Meanwhile, local communities, through the community right to bid provisions, now have a say on the future of their local by the listing of a public house as an asset of community value, which results in an automatic removal of the permitted development rights for its demolition or change of use.”

In the 2018 autumn budget, Chancellor Philip Hammond announced a business rates discount scheme for small high street properties in England with a rateable value below £51,000.

He said the move would help “up to 90% of all independent shops, pubs, restaurants and cafes”.

Mr Probyn added: “The new retail relief, which discounted business rates bills by a third from April 1 for smaller pubs in England, will certainly have helped to ease cost pressures with the average small pub saving £6,052.”