LONDON, England: Amidst surging energy prices and worker shortages, research released this week showed the number of pubs in England and Wales that remain open for business has dropped to a record low, threatening the future of a much-loved British institution.
Driven by the post-COVID-19 pandemic demand for goods and services, as well as the Ukraine crisis, inflation in the UK has reached a 40-year high, pushing up fuel and energy bills.
Citing an analysis by the UK tax authority going back to 2005, real estate consultancy, the Atlus Group, said at the end of June the number of pubs in England and Wales was 39,973, some 200 fewer than at the end of last year.
Additionally, the group said some 7,100 pubs have been lost in the last decade.
"Whilst pubs proved remarkably resilient during the pandemic, they're now facing new headwinds, grappling with the cost of doing business and soaring energy costs, inflationary pressures and tax rises," said Altus Group UK President Robert Hayton, as quoted by Reuters.
British pub operators Mitchells & Butlers and Marston's warned, in May, that the Russian invasion of Ukraine and the cost of living crisis would cut into the profits of the nation's pubs.
The effects of the COVID-19 pandemic and Brexit has kept customers away and deprived the hospitality industry of workers.
The UK national identity is closely intertwined with pubs, often considered the heart of a community, but they have suffered from long-term decline due to changing drinking and social habits and other factors, such as lower alcohol prices offered by supermarkets.
In an emailed statement, Emma McClarkin, chief executive of the British Beer and Pub Association, said, "The numbers painted a devastating picture. It is essential that we receive relief to ease these pressures or we really do risk losing more pubs year on year."