More than 6,000 British pubs may be forced to close in the next five years thanks largely to the smoking ban, accountants and business advisers PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) warned yesterday.
A PwC report published a year after the introduction of the ban on lighting up in a public place reveals the devastating impact it is having on the UK’s licensed premises.
PwC partner Michael Jervis said: “The rate of pub closures has accelerated – we now expect to see 6,000 pubs closing by 2012. The majority of pubs suffering distress are community pubs.”
The prediction comes as a warning that businesses need to assess the impact the smoking ban is having on their pubs in order to adjust.
For many traditional pubs, the ban on smoking has coincided with a time of economic decline, meaning many consumers opt for pub chains, providing cheaper alternatives. The wet English summers have also deterred smoking customers, now forced to light up outdoors.
Besides the shocking predictions about pub closures, the report also offers crucial advice to many pubs around the UK, struggling to adjust to the huge impact the smoking ban has had on their operations.
City views: Has the smoking ban affected how often you go to pubs?
Sandra Thompson (Marlborough Insurance Company): “I don’t smoke, and I prefer the atmosphere in pubs now. I have noticed fewer people inside pubs since the ban, but I wouldn’t say it was a huge difference, so I’m surprised at the figures. I doubt people will give up drink in favour of smoking, in fact more people are quitting since the ban.”
Nestor Pascual (Philippine National Bank): “I don’t smoke, and I think the ban has made me more willing to go to pubs – I definitely prefer it now the air’s more breathable. I also feel safer taking my children to the pub, and it’s nice for us to go there for a family meal, whereas I wouldn’t have done that before.
Fred Francis (Chief executive at GRS): “I do smoke occasionally, but I’ve noticed that the majority of people now drink outside the pubs and not inside, so I wouldn’t have thought the ban would make much difference to pub revenues. The figures surprise me – I thought it would have a small impact but not to the extent of 6,000 pubs closing over 5 years.”