In the three months since lockdown ended, 16 British pubs closed every single day.
A total of 980 watering holes closed between July and September 2021, with smaller, independent and family-run businesses the hardest hit, accounting for around three-quarters of closures.
The figures, from the new Market Recovery Monitor from CGA and AlixPartners, come as no surprise: the pandemic meant forced closures, curfews and limits on the number of customers, and calls to bolster the hospitality industry often fell on deaf ears.
Brexit complications have also been blamed for the mass closures, such as rising costs and supply issues.
As job losses hit record highs in 2020, the hospitality industry was the hardest hit, accounting for 43% of the national total.
Beyond the statistics, though, is the loss of livelihood for individuals and the loss of well-loved venues for communities.
London-based Jessica’s local pub was forced to close due to the pandemic, changing hands as a result.
The pub, which had a local charm, was somewhere Jessica spent most of her time outside of work and home.
‘It was popular with students, but there were plenty of old boys propping up the bar – a necessity for any decent pub,’ she tells Metro.co.uk.
‘Even though they served craft beers and had “shabby chic” mismatched furniture, it wasn’t pretentious and you could always get a cold pint of ‘normal’ lager if you wanted.’
That was all lost after lockdown.
‘As the lockdown closed its doors, the owners obviously struggled to keep up, and the pub was bought over by a brewery,’ says Jess.
‘I’ve been back a few times since it changed hands, and it’s like a shell of its former self.
‘The regulars have dwindled after they stopped selling any commercial beers, increased prices, and got rid of long-term bar staff – it’s now got no local vibe because it’s not used by the locals who made it what it was.
‘I don’t feel right going to a pub that pushed out its best customers, and it’s sad that the new owners are trying to cash in on gentrification by changing the focus from a friendly neighbourhood boozer to a soulless gastropub that’ll attract a wealthier clientele.’
Calling for better government support, Karl Chessell, CGA’s business unit director for hospitality operators and food, EMEA, says: ‘These numbers are a reminder—if it were needed — that the crisis in hospitality is far from over.
‘Restrictions on socialising and trading may have eased, but their impacts continue to be felt by restaurants, pubs and bars whose reserves have been eaten up by months of closure.
‘Factor in a crisis in recruitment, rising costs in many key areas and widespread supply issues, and it is clear that thousands of firms and jobs remain vulnerable.
‘Targeted government support on these major challenges—starting with more VAT relief—is needed to help to prevent hospitality’s recovery from stalling.’