The vast majority of 24-hour licences belong to hotels which only serve alcohol to their guests, official statistics have revealed.
The Department for Culture, Media and Sport figures, based on returns from 86% of local councils, show that, as of 31 March 2007, there were 176,400 licensed premises in England and Wales including 15,100 private members clubs.
The figures show that 5,100 premises had 24-hour licences, the bulk of which (65%) are hotel bars, 910 (18%) are supermarkets and stores, and 460 (9%) are pubs, bars and nightclubs.
Licensing Minister Gerry Sutcliffe said: "These are the first official licensing figures since the Act came into force two years ago and I'm pleased they put to bed the theory that this law is all about 24-hour drinking. It isn't.
"Fewer than 3% of premises are licensed to sell alcohol round-the-clock and two thirds of those are hotels, which have always been able to serve their guests for 24 hours a day.
"Only around 1% of premises have 24-hour licences to sell alcohol to the public - and many only open longer hours on special occasions."
Fewer than 50,000 premises including kebab shops, fried chicken outlets, restaurants and pubs are licensed to sell hot food after 11pm, while 81,300 premises are licensed to put on public entertainment such as live music, dancing and theatre performances.
By Daniel Thomas