Pubs Closing At ‘Record Rate’

(Press Association) – PUBS ARE CLOSING AT A RECORD RATE with the loss of 24,000 jobs in the past year as the industry is hammered by the recession, figures have shown.

Research for the British Beer & Pub Association (BBPA) showed 52 pubs closed every week in Britain for the first six months of the year, an increase of a third on the same period last year.

So-called ‘local’ pubs were shown to be the most vulnerable in the economic downturn as communities are hit by the fallout of the economic downturn. These businesses closed at a rate of 40 a week in the first six months of the year, while nine high street bars were shut per week. Meanwhile, branded pubs and cafe style bars were shown to be opening at a rate of two a week.

The figures indicated that businesses that provide food were far more resilient to the recession, with closures weighted by 51 to one on those pubs that mostly focus on selling drink.

A spokesman for the BBPA said the overall rate of closure, which is calculated on a net basis, was the steepest since figures began in 1990. While previous research did not provide a breakdown of the type of pubs closing, the spokesman said it could not be simply attributed to changing tastes.

‘The biggest impact is the recession. There are fewer people out and fewer people spending money in pubs and bars regardless of where they are,’ he said. ‘Pubs are already diversifying; but, unfortunately, if you are a community pub, you can’t transform yourself into a trendy town centre bar.’

He said the overall number of pubs had remained steady at around 60,000 for years, with closure rates at around two businesses a week in 2005. The number of pubs has dropped by 2,377 in the last year, to a total of 53,466, the figures showed.

Pubs have faced particular pressures over the past two years, starting with a large increase in inflation in 2007 which cut drinkers’ spending power. The smoking ban and changes to the Licensing Act also struck blows, with the killer punch for many pubs dealt by the recession and the accompanying rise in unemployment.

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