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UK pub closure rate continues to climb

Almost as many pubs shut across the UK in the first six months of 2023 as did throughout all of last year, according to data from real estate analysts Altus Group.

The research revealed that from the beginning of January to the end of June this year, 383 pubs closed across the UK, compared to 386 throughout 2022. The average number of closures during the first three months of 2023 was 51, and for the second quarter it was a staggering 77.

In terms of where closures are most acute, the leaders are Wales, which lost 52 boozers from January to June, and London, which lost 46.

Alex Probyn, president of property tax at Altus Group, cited several reasons for the high closure rates, and suggested that the picture for pubs in 2024 did not look hugely promising: “With energy costs up 80% year-on-year in a low growth, high inflation and high interest rates environment, the last thing pubs need is an average business rates hike of £12,385 next year.”

Under the Retail, Hospitality and Leisure Business Rates Relief scheme for 2023–2024, some pubs (and other businesses in those sectors) were given a 75% relief, up to a cash cap limit of £110,000 – however, this is due to conclude on 31 March 2024.

Last month, British Beer and Pub Association chief executive Emma McClarkin called for an extension to business rates relief: “Since 2020 our pubs have faced a myriad of challenges, from forced closures to an ongoing energy crisis and for many the looming increase in business rates early next year will be the last straw.”

The condition of the UK’s public houses is symptomatic of the state of its hospitality industry as a whole, with the country losing one in 18 of its licensed premises from mid-2022 to mid-2023.

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