The overall number of licensed premises fell by 1.8% to 116,203 in 2019, the slowest rate of decline since March 2018.
Total restaurant numbers dropped by 1.6% but there was a 1.8% rise in openings by restaurant groups - defined as managed operators with more than one location. This was driven by expansion in regional cities, with Birmingham, Bristol, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Liverpool and Manchester all in net growth year on year.
The overall number of pubs and bars across the country fell by 2%. Drinks-focused community pubs remain the hardest hit, having suffered 4,297 net closures since December 2014.
“We are still seeing unsustainable pubs close, but collectively the rate of net number of pub, bar and restaurants closing is slowing,” says Karl Chessell, business unit director for food and retail at CGA.
“Last year was not easy for some big restaurant brands, but smaller and medium sized brands are bringing new concepts to the market and successfully scaling up."
The rate of restaurant, pub and bar closures in seaside towns was 5.8%, more than three times the British average. Blackpool saw the steepest drop, with 10.8% of licensed premises shutting in the last year, while Newquay, Scarborough, Great Yarmouth and Torquay have also been in sustained decline.
Manchester and Liverpool remain hotspots for growth, with the number of restaurants, pubs and bars increasing by 20% in the last five years.
“The contrast between Britain’s big cities and seaside towns couldn’t be starker,” says Chessell. “Resorts where restaurants, pubs and bars once thrived have suffered serious hardships, with independents particularly hard hit.
“But the night-time economy in many of our regional hubs continues to flourish, with consumers drawn by some distinctive and vibrant operators who know their cities inside out.”