12,000 licensed venues close their doors for good amid Covid-19 lockdown

1 March 2021, 06:38

A pub is boarded up in Central London
A pub is boarded up in Central London. Picture: PA

By Kate Buck

Almost 12,000 pubs, bars and restaurants have been forced to shut down since the beginning of last year, it has been revealed, as the dramatic impact of the pandemic on the hospitality sector is laid bare.

New data tracking more than 100,000 venues licensed to serve alcohol showed that more than one had shut every hour in the 13 months from the start of 2020 to January 31.

The latest market recovery monitor from CGA and AlixPartners revealed that 11,894 venues have shut their doors for good over the period.

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It said that 170 new sites have been recorded since the end of December 2019, but closures nonetheless outnumber opening by three-to-one.

There are also concerns that this figure could increase more sharply as venues remain shut due to the latest national lockdown.

"These numbers set out the full, devastating impact of the pandemic on Britain's licensed premises," said Karl Chessell, CGA's business unit director for hospitality operators and food.

"The wipe-out of Christmas trade was clearly the final blow for many businesses, and the long wait that others now face to open their doors sadly means closures will mount even higher."

Hospitality venues will be able to welcome customers outside from April 12 at the earliest, with customers allowed indoors from May 17 at the earliest."

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However, the report said that less than half, 43.2%, of England's pubs, bars and restaurants have an outdoor area of some kind.

Mr Chessell said: "Pubs have proved more durable than restaurants in recent months, and outside service will give many of them a useful kickstart if the sun shines.

"Amid all the closures, it's also encouraging to see a steady flow of new entrants to the market.

Around one venue every hour closed for good in the past year
Around one venue every hour closed for good in the past year. Picture: PA

"We remain very confident about the long-term future of the sector, but unfortunately there is more pain to come first."

AlixPartners managing director Graeme Smith said: "While the Prime Minister says the country is on a one-way road to freedom, the hospitality sector still faces months of subjugation.

"Businesses have spent almost an entire year closed or operating under the most severe restrictions, and the Government's roadmap to reopening does very little to ease their pain in the near-term.

"Businesses are burning through cash at an alarming rate as costs stack up, and within the sector there is despair as to why hospitality is at the back of the queue when it comes to reopening.

"The Budget is absolutely crucial to the future survival of thousands of sector businesses; a substantial package of financial support is needed to prevent greater numbers of closures across this year and beyond."