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Calls for support as figures reveal 23% fall in pub numbers since 2008

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Calls for support as figures reveal 23% fall in pub numbers since 2008

UKHospitality has called on the government to support pubs after statistics revealed more than 11,000 or 23% have closed in the last decade.

Despite the number of closures the turnover of pubs has remained steady, even with inflation taken into account, and the number of people employed in the sector has increased.

Data released by the Office of National Statistics (ONS) has illustrated the demise in pubs from 50,000 in 2008 to 39,000 in 2018, with small businesses on the outskirts of cities or in commuter belts seeing highest rate of closures.

Pub numbers have held up in popular tourist areas and seaside towns, including Blackpool and Brighton, as well as in cities such as York, Milton Keynes and Newcastle.

A steady rate of turnover in the industry suggests that successful pubs are soaking up the custom from those that have closed, while the rise of larger pubs, often owned by chains, has been attributed to the 6% growth in employment since 2008, along with an increased focus on food.

UKHospitality has said high employment in the sector will be dependent on its profitability.

Chief executive Kate Nicholls said: “Looking at this data, it is clear that pubs are facing challenges, but that they are also crucial providers of jobs around the UK. The new report underlines the need for support from Government to ensure that vital businesses are not squeezed further.

“Almost one quarter of pubs have closed since 2008 and, with costs continuing to increase, many of them are unlikely to ever reopen. Turnover has also remained stagnant for the sector since the recession and is significantly lower than the pre-recession high, despite customer spend remaining relatively stable. This is a sure sign that costs are continuing to increase, and margins squeezed as a result.

“Despite this, pubs are investing in their teams and employment in the sector has increased significantly since the low in 2010. The number of people working in pubs is back to pre-recession levels, but this will be under threat if costs continue to rise.”

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