UK pub numbers are on the increase for the first time in a decade
According to a new report by the Office for National Statistics (ONS), the number of pubs and bars in the UK increased for the first time in over a decade during 2019. And it’s not just the number of pubs that’s increased. According to the report, there are now 7,000 more jobs in the sector than there was in 2018, itself an increase of 1.6%.
The news was welcomed cautiously by the trade. Although this must be seen as a positive trend, the data behind the rise suggests a marked change in consumer behaviour. Closures began to seriously affect the pub trade in 2005. It is felt that if the upward trend is to continue, owners and operators will need to continue to adapt to their market’s changing tastes.
According to the ONS report, much of the growth is down to food sales and this is reflected in the way pubs are staffed.
In 2003 only 3 in every 10 employees in the pub industry worked in the kitchen. Today almost 44% of the 457,000 people working in pubs and bars are employed to look after the food, not the bar.
Also after years of struggling against closure in the wake of larger and larger pubs opening, smaller pubs also seem to be on the rise. The current popularity of micro-pubs appears to have had a positive effect on the numbers with 85 establishments with a staff of 10 or less opening in 2019 and that is a statistic that is definitely in line with our recent experience of the Sheffield market.
The figures have prompted industry experts to call for the government to ease certain pressures on pub owners and operators. Their view is the upcoming Budget should include a reduction in both beer duty and business rates to encourage growth in to continue. Somewhat predictably the Treasury has responded cautiously saying they may conduct a review of business rates “in due course.”
If you own or operate a pub, bar or chain and would like to discuss any legal issues relating to your business, our specialist Leisure team can help. Please email email@example.com or call Craig on 0114 252 1440.