The number of pubs in England and Wales has fallen to a record low, according to analysis that sheds light on the ruinous impact of the pandemic and soaring business costs.
The total number of pubs dropped below 40,000 during the first half of 2022, a fall of more than 7000 since a decade ago.
Pubs that had disappeared from communities had been demolished or converted into other buildings such as homes and offices, the research from real estate advisers Altus Group said.
Across Britain, the hospitality sector has faced immense challenges in recent years as it recovered from the pandemic, which led to national lockdowns causing closures and reduced demand.
But the researchers suggested that while pubs had managed to battle through COVID, they were facing a fresh challenge thanks to record-high inflation and an energy crisis.
“Whilst pubs proved remarkably resilient during the pandemic, they’re now facing new headwinds grappling with the cost of doing business crisis through soaring energy costs, inflationary pressures and tax rises,” Altus Group’s UK president Robert Hayton said.
Two hundred pubs vanished from English and Welsh communities from the end of 2021 up to the end of June.
Pubs in the overall count were those that must pay business rates, including those vacant and being offered to let.
According to research from the British Beer and Pub Association, British Institute of Innkeeping and UKHospitality, only 37 per cent of hospitality businesses are turning a profit.
The rising cost of energy, goods and labour were identified as the biggest factors behind falling profits.
The hospitality industry has called on the British government to provide more support.
“When pubs are forced to close it’s a huge loss to the local community, and these numbers paint a devastating picture of how pubs are being lost in villages, towns and cities across the country,” British Beer and Pub Association chief executive Emma McClarkin said.
“As a sector we have just weathered the hardest two years on memory, and we now face the challenge of extreme rising costs, with only one in three hospitality businesses currently profitable.”