Cost of living: Pub bankruptcies soar in UK

Rising costs and falling sales: The purchasing power crisis is hitting iconic British pubs hard, which last year saw the number of bankruptcies soar by 83% year on year in the sector, according to the British firm of accountants UHY Hacker Young.

“After a tough time during the pandemic, many pubs and bars find themselves with very little savings or ability to borrow more”, and for some, “the current economic downturn has been the latest push into insolvency”, described the firm in a statement Monday.

During the Covid-19 pandemic, government aid had kept many companies on life support. But in 2022, 512 pubs filed for bankruptcy, up from 280 the previous year, during a period when energy prices soared, straining business budgets, the statement said.

At the same time, the cost of living crisis “has affected the habits of consumers, making them less likely to spend on + non-essential +”, continues the firm, for which the strikes of railway workers for wages, which have multiplied these months in the country, have also turned away customers from city center pubs.

The number of pubs has been slowly declining across the country for several decades, but “recent shocks like the pandemic and the energy crisis have put (these establishments) under greater pressure than ever”, according to industry federation British Beer and Pub Association (BBPA).

Ahead of the presentation of the budget to Parliament on March 15, the organization for its part called on the government to “invest in pubs and breweries now or lose them forever”, in particular via a more advantageous tax system.

“After almost three extremely difficult years due to lockdowns, an energy crisis, disrupted supply chains, strikes and a dramatic decline in consumer confidence”, the sector is at a turning point, ensures the BBPA.