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Thu 16th Jan 2020 - Number of small pubs and bars rises for first time in more than 15 years
Number of small pubs and bars rises for first time in more than 15 years, sector ‘real’ turnover at highest level since financial crisis: The number of small pubs and bars in the UK has increased for the first time in more than 15 years, according to new data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS). The number of small pubs and bars  – those with fewer than ten employees – increased by 85 (0.4%) to 22,925 in 2019. The positive news follows more than 15 years of closures, according to the report entitled Economies Of Ale: Changes In The UK Pubs And Bars Sector, 2001-2019. While the total number of pubs fell from 51,120 to 39,130 between 2007 and 2019, total employment grew from 426,000 to 457,000 during the same period. The growth in employment has been driven by customers eating, rather than drinking, with the share of pub employees working as bar staff falling from 37.6% in 2007 to 28.9% in 2019, while the percentage employed as kitchen and waiting staff increased from 29.1% to 43.8%. The ONS said there was a long-term trend towards people spending more of their household income on eating out and less on drinking out. The ONS added it was monitoring the slight decline in spend on meals eaten out in the financial year 2017 to 2018, as this may not be indicative of a consistent trend. As well as an increase in the number of pubs and bars in the UK, turnover in the sector increased £847m (3.8%) to £23.3bn in 2017, after inflation is considered. This equates to average turnover per pub of £595,000. Real turnover in the latest year of data is at its highest level since the financial crisis of 2007 to 2008 ended. Moreover, there were 7,000 more jobs in the sector in 2019 compared with 2018, an increase of 1.6%. The report stated: “The UK pubs and bars sector may be bouncing back after years of net closures. The sector has responded by diversifying its offer, evidently in the area of foodservice. This year’s data has shown a net increase in small pubs and bars for the first time in more than 15 years and the highest levels of real turnover since the end of the financial crisis of 2007 to 2008.” The latest research has been published on the back of findings revealed last year that the number of pubs in the UK increased in 2019 for the first time for a decade. The study found there was a net gain of 320 pubs in 2019 – up 0.8%. Senior statistician Hugh Stickland said: “While smaller pubs have been struggling to survive in recent years, bigger pubs have been growing in number. This growth has been driven by food rather than drink and we’ve seen a big rise in the number of people employed as pub kitchen and waiting staff.”


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