Ers giving British much-needed boost
The fortunes and misfortunes of one of Britain’s greatest institutions, the public house, was put under the microscope on Monday by the Office for National Statistics (ONS).
Figures show nearly a quarter of pubs a across the country have closed since 2008, but the turnover of the industry is holdiing up and the number of people working in bars is on the rise.
Tourism has come to the rescue in many areas with the number of pubs remaining stable or increasing in popular tourist areas, such as Highland Scotland, Ceredigion in West Wales and the famous English Lake District, as well as many seaside towns such as Brighton on England’s south coast.
Figures show the number of small pubs decreased by 40 percent between 2001 and 2018 from 38,830 to 22,840, while the number of larger pubs increased by 17 percent from 13,670 to 15,975.
ONS said the latest data confirms the large fall in the number of pubs, from around 50,000 pubs in 2008 to around 39,000 pubs in 2018.
The London borough of Hackney saw the biggest rise in the number of pubs between 2001 and 2018, with 30 new bars opening, while Birmingham, Britain’s second biggest city, experienced the biggest fall with 220 pubs closing.
The figures don’t tell the full story of how the British pub trade is doing, said ONS.
“Although lots of pubs have closed, the total turnover of pubs and bars has held up, remaining flat since 2008, once inflation is taken into account. The remaining pubs and bars appear to have soaked up the custom from those pubs that have closed down,” the study revealed.
Many areas on the edges of big cities, and in the commuter belt, have seen the biggest declines in the number of pubs.
Barking and Dagenham, Newham and Luton, all in and around London, now have fewer than half the pubs they did in 2001.
There are also far fewer pubs in areas around Manchester as well as on the outskirts of Birmingham. Torfaen, near Newport, lost the most pubs in Wales while in Scotland two areas south of Glasgow saw pub numbers decline the most.
All areas of Northern Ireland have seen pubs close their doors, with numbers falling by more than a third between 2001 and 2018.
Employment figures show that while the number of jobs in pubs dipped during the economic downturn, there are now 6 percent more jobs in pubs and bars than there were in 2008.
The largest increases have been in bigger pubs, employing 10 or more staff. This may be because pubs are increasingly focused on serving food as well as drink, which requires more waiting and kitchen staff, ONS said.
Most jobs in pubs are low paid, said ONS, with around 70 percent of workers paid less than the Living Wage Foundation’s living wage of $13.55 an hour in London and $11.56 an hour elsewhere.