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50 pubs closing every month as inflation crisis bites

Jump in operating costs and reluctant consumers inflict pain on industry.

Fifty pubs are closing every month in England and Wales as economic mayhem hits the hospitality industry.

New figures show that there are now around 39,800 pubs in England and Wales, with the number of closures accelerating in summer.

Between the end of June and September, a total of 150 pubs were either demolished or turned into homes and offices - close to the 200 pubs which shut in the whole previous six months.

The figures, compiled by analytics company Altus Group based on government property records, show that Wales and the North West have been the hardest hit by closures.

It comes amid mounting concern over the future of Britain's pubs. Tim Martin, chairman of Wetherspoons, warned last week of a "momentous challenge" to bring customers back after they stayed at home drinking supermarket beer during lockdowns. Supermarkets pay less VAT than pubs, which Mr Martin claims has had a debilitating impact on the industry.

The struggle to lure in consumers comes as pubs face pressure from spiralling ingredient prices, energy bills and labour costs. Households are also cutting back to cope with their own higher utility and food bills.

Many pubs have already had to raise prices, and the recent slump in sterling has raised the prospect of further increases given that many rely on imported beers and wines. The trade group UKHospitality estimates that more than 60pc of the industry's food and drink is imported.

Further pressure lies ahead for the pubs which can survive this winter, given that from next April, they are set to lose their business rate discount, which has been in place to help them recover following the pandemic and a series of lockdowns.

They have had a 50pc discount on their business rates bills, worth around £9,500 per pub. Support is due to end on March 31.

Robert Hayton, of Altus, criticised the Chancellor Kwasi Kearteng's failure to extend support in last month's mini-Budget.

He said: "It beggars belief that a self-proclaimed low tax government could allow pubs to lose their business rates discount next April.”


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