The rate of closures of restaurants, pubs and bars has slowed to its lowest level for almost two years, with a decline of 1.8% in the year to December 2019.
According to the Market Growth Monitor from CGA and AlixPartners the rate of closures is at its lowest point since March 2018.
It found that Britain had a total of 116,203 licensed premises at December 2019, representing a net closure rate of six sites a day of last year.
There has been a 1.6% drop in restaurants in the year to December, despite group restaurants increasing by 1.8%. In the same period Britain's total pub and bar numbers have fallen 2%, with food-led sites faring better than community wet-led.
Closures in seaside towns saw were three times the British average, with a collective drop of 5.8%. The area that suffered the most was Blackpool, where 10.8% of licensed premises have shut in the last year.
However, hotspots such as Manchester and Liverpool have seen significant growth, with both increasing the number of licensed premises by 20% in the last five years.
Karl Chessell, business unit director for food and retail at CGA, said: "While the licensed sector continues to contract, our latest Market Growth Monitor also shows reasons to be optimistic about prospects for 2020.
"We are still seeing unsustainable pubs close, but collectively the rate of net number of pub, bar and restaurants closing is slowing. Last year was not easy for some big restaurant brands, but smaller and medium sized brands are bringing new concepts to the market and successfully scaling up. All our research shows that consumers are still eager to go out to eat and drink, and they’ve never had it better for choice.”
AlixPartners’ managing director Graeme Smith added: “Overall, the eating and drinking out market remains dynamic and attractive to investors, with this very much in evidence across last year where pubs and experiential businesses took up the slack in investment activity from the more subdued restaurant sector.
"Reduced political uncertainty, more positive recent trading results and encouraging returns when investing in sites, provide a platform for increased M&A and investment activity in 2020 across both wet-led and food-led concepts. However, investors will be looking carefully at what the impact on trading will be from the recent coronavirus outbreak.”