Number of licensed premises falls by 25,000 as reopenings stall

By James McAllister

- Last updated on GMT

Number of licensed hospitality premises falls by 25,000 as reopenings stall

Related tags: Pubs, Restaurant, Licensed premises, Coronavirus, Cga

The UK has nearly 25,000 fewer licensed premises open than before the Coronavirus lockdown, the latest Market Recovery Monitor from CGA and AlixPartners reveals.

According to the data, just over 90,000 premises around Britain had returned to trading by the end of September, a net increase of nearly 4,000 sites over the course of the month.

However, the figure is sharply down on the 15,500 sites that opened during August, when rising consumer spending and the popularity of the government’s Eat Out to Help Out scheme incentivised many operators to return.

The number of sites currently trading compares to the 115,000 licensed premises recorded by CGA in March.

Pubs have been much quicker to reopen than restaurants, with more than nine in ten back trading, but with ongoing measures especially impacting late-night operators, just 73.2% of all known bars and 65.2% of nightclubs have reopened.

In the restaurant sector, 87.3% of casual dining venues have reopened, but with many brands turning to CVAs or administration procedures, there are now 1,200 fewer sites than there were in March.

Independent operators seem to be suffering more than most, with just 73.3% of independents having reopened compared to 91.7% of managed sites, equating to 21,000 fewer independents in the market.

In London, three quarters (75.6%) of all sites are open, well down on other major cities including Manchester (83.6%), Liverpool (85.6%) and Edinburgh (82.3%).

“Britain now has around 25,000 fewer licensed premises than it did before the pandemic, and the big question is how much of that shortfall will ever be recovered,” says Karl Chessell, business unit director for food and retail at CGA.

“While there are encouraging signs in some parts of the market, it is clear that capacity is closely following the pattern of suppressed consumer demand.

"August was a strong month of recovery for hospitality in both site numbers and trading, but these figures show that momentum has stalled.

"Very damaging new restrictions in Scotland and areas of England will undoubtedly weaken the market further, and sustained Government support is urgently needed if the industry is to protect sites and jobs over the autumn.”

The release of the report comes as Prime Minister Boris Johnson prepares to unveil a three-tier Coronavirus lockdown alert system​ for England, which will see pubs, bars and potentially restaurants in areas with the highest infection rate forced to close.

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