Pub Closures Accelerating?

As is being reported all over the place, in the first half of this year 52 British pubs closed every week. The number of factors involved here makes it difficult to say what the overall effect will be when the dust clears. The recession, plus the rises in beer tax, plus the smoking ban, plus cheap supermarket booze and changing tastes are all contributing to what seems to be a perfect storm for the pub trade. On the other hand though, quality imports seem to be doing well, as does British cask beer, while food seems to be the thing that is keeping many pubs open. Evidently there is still a market for quality and many of the pubs that are closing will have very little to offer besides miserable keg beer and worn out carpets, but nevertheless the figures are shocking. As The Publican reports:

The study suggests 2,377 pubs have closed in the last 12 months.

And this has led to the loss of 24,000 jobs in the sector, in the same period.

BBPA chief executive David Long said: “The recession is proving extremely tough for Britain’s pubs. However, those economic pressures have been made much worse by a government that has continued to pile on tax and regulatory burdens.”

Based on these figures, there are now 53,466 pubs in Britain, down from 58,600 in the year before the Licensing Act came into force.

In the last three years 5,134 pubs have closed.

Meanwhile, as was reported last month, the march of Marstons continues. Having made a mint selling quality local brews in decent, well-kept pubs, it is planning expansion in a time of low property prices and struggling competitors. Despite my natural resistance to the spread of over-sized pub-cos I have a soft spot for Marstons since it helped save my excellent local from terminal tenant churn.