Thursday 16 January 2020 12:37 pm

Number of small pubs rises for first time in 15 years

The number of small pubs and bars increased for the first time in 15 years last year, as consumers splashed the cash on meals out, according to the latest statistics.

Small pubs and bars, which have fewer than 10 employees, increased by 85 – a 0.4 per cent rise – following more than a decade of closures.

The overall number of pubs and bars in the UK increased 0.8 per cent, as an additional 315 opened across the UK between 2018 and 2018, marking the first increase in 10 years. 

Turnover in the pub sector increased by 3.8 per cent to £847m in 2017, and real turnover in the latest data is at the highest level since the 2008 financial crisis. The sector also added 7,000 more jobs last year compared to 2019, an increase of 1.6 per cent.

Pubs now employ more people serving food than working behind the bar, according to the latest data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS), as venues try to adapt to changing consumer behaviour. 

Robert Rawlinson, chief executive of live sport streaming service for pubs Screach, said: “Pubs can no longer count on the universal appeal they previously enjoyed as the primary place people go to to relax and have fun. 

“The challenge for the industry now is to show its relevance to a wide and diverse range of customer types, reminding them that pubs are about more than just drinking alcohol; they are also social places where they can meet their friends to enjoy the things that matter to them.

“But while much of this ONS report will make for challenging reading for the sector, a fightback is underway at last.”