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Pub closure rate accelerates to five a day

Published:  11 September, 2008

Pub closures across Britain have accelerated to five a day during the first half of this year, according to new figures released.

Pub closures across Britain have accelerated to five a day during the first half of this year, according to new figures released.

Pubs are now closing at the rate of 36 a week, according to figures compiled by CGA Strategy for the British Beer & Pub Association (BBPA). This is a sharp increase on the 27 closures a week during 2007, reported by the BBPA in March this year. The numbers show the damage that will be done if the Government presses ahead with its planned tax rises when the industry is facing such difficulties.

The current closure rate is 33% up on 2007. Pubs are now closing nine times faster than in 2006, and 18 times faster than in 2005. A total of 1,409 pubs closed during 2007. Pub numbers were down 216 in 2006 - four a week - following a fall of 102 in 2005 - two a week.

Rob Hayward, chief executive of the BBPA, said: "These numbers are a stark illustration of the pressures on the pub sector. Economic stresses and strains are being felt by every household across the country and acutely by Britain's public houses.

"Sliding consumer confidence and spiralling inflation are hitting pubs in two ways. Not only are the costs of running a pub increasing, but fewer people through the door means less cash in the tills.

"Despite this, the Government seems intent on increasing the burden on pubs. Its current proposals to target pubs with a raft of new red tape such as statutory codes of conduct and ratchet up taxes with its beer duty escalator will only make matters worse. Such policies will only drive up costs for pubs and prices for punters. Government needs to wake up to what's happening in the real world of the pub."

These latest pub closure figures follow the BBPA's publication in July of a sharp, 11% decline in on-trade beer sales in the second quarter - the first quarter following the swinging nine% budget tax increase in March. According to the BBPA, sales of beer are now at their lowest levels since the great depression of the 1930s and could drop even lower if tax increases continue.

Mr Hayward added: "Thousands of much loved community pubs are under threat. They are at the heart of every community and a major tourist draw for Britain. Without a change of heart from the Government, many more are facing closure.

"With so many pubs in peril, the Government's threat of further stealth taxes on beer cannot go unanswered. And with food and fuel prices rocketing, this is a terrible time to be hitting pubgoers with more taxes.

"We want to send a wake-up call to Westminster. We will be asking pubs to ring their bells at one o'clock next Monday afternoon to show pubs need a better deal from the Government. We'll also be setting out in detail our own economic analysis of the state of the sector to provide further proof, if proof were needed, that it's time pubs and brewers had a fair deal."