The rate of pubs being demolished or redeveloped increased by almost 60% during the first three months of the year as energy bills continue to batter the sector.
More than 150 pubs have disappeared for good from English and Welsh communities over the first three months of 2023, according to analysis of government data by commercial real estate intelligence firm Altus Group.
The data showed that the overall number of pubs in England and Wales, including those vacant and being offered to let, dropped to 39,634 at the end of the first quarter, with 153 pubs closing for good compared with the 39,787 pubs recorded in England and Wales at the end of 2022.
Around 51 pubs were lost each month, accelerating from the 32 pubs lost a month during the whole of 2022. In 2022, 386 pubs were lost for good in total.
The British Beer & Pub Association (BBPA) has warned that the average energy bill for a pub would rise by £18,400 a year from this month with the Energy Bill Relief Scheme ending, meaning the average pub would need to increase its turnover by at least 11% just to break even.
Instead, figures published today indicate people are cutting back on eating and drinking out to cope with the cost of living crisis.
Emma McClarkin, chief executive of the BBPA, said: "Energy bills are decimating our sector, with extortionate costs wiping out profits and closing pubs at a faster rate than the pandemic. Pubs that were profitable and thriving before the energy crisis are being left with no option but to shut up shop. We have been raising the alarm for months that energy costs are posing an existential threat to pubs across the country and these figures are evidence of that.
"It is essential that the government intervenes to ensure energy suppliers are offering the option of renegotiation to pubs locked into unmanageably high energy contracts. Make no mistake, the longer this goes on the more pubs will be lost forever in communities across the country, something must be done immediately to save them."
Alex Probyn, president of property tax at Altus Group, added: "Pubs have seen their values for the business rates tax fall 17% overall and, with measures taken at last year's Autumn Statement, that will mean a tax saving of £5,500 for the average pub.
"But that simply won't compensate for the energy support being lost, making plots even more attractive for alternative investment."