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Britain loses 30% of nightclubs since Covid

Published:  29 September, 2023

Covid and changing consumer habits have led to a sharp drop in Britain's nightclubs, according to new research from CGA by NIQ.

CGA and AlixPartner's latest Hospitality Market Monitor has revealed a 30% net decline in nightclubs from March 2020 to June 2023. This is more than double the 13% drop in all licensed premises over the same period. The closures bring the total number of nightclubs in the UK to 873, compared to 1,700 10 years ago.

The sharp decline is the result of Covid-related closures, of which nightclubs were the last to emerge from trading restrictions, combined with a gradual evolution in consumer habits.

In recent years, the late-night market has diversified with experience-led and immersive concepts. Despite the significant losses among nightclubs, the market has seen a growing diversity of alternative high-tempo experiences, and bar numbers have fallen by only 3.1% since March 2020 – a fraction of the 30% drop in nightclubs.

Karl Chessell, CGA by NIQ's director – hospitality operators and food, EMEA, said: “Covid-19 hit nightclubs harder than any other licensed sector, and lockdowns were the final straw for hundreds of venues. But our research shows the late-night market isn't disappearing – it's just changing. Bars, pubs, competitive socialising venues and other new leisure concepts all now rival nightclubs, giving consumers a greater choice of venues than ever. Young adults remain eager for big nights out with their friends, and while clubs are still a part of their mix they are also open to alternatives that deliver memorable social experiences and good value.”

Graeme Smith, AlixPartners' MD, added: “This latest data highlights just how severely the night-time industry has been impacted by both the pandemic, changing consumer behaviour and increasing competition in the late-night market with consumers looking for more immersive experiences (including competitive socialising).

“We've seen a recent explosion of experiential bar and restaurant concepts across the industry, and with bars and other venues also now staying open later into the early hours, consumers have a wide array of experiences and options to choose from. As the industry becomes increasingly dynamic, these venues need to compete more than ever to become the late-night experience of choice, whilst keeping evolving consumer habits front of mind.”