Over 6,100 Pubs & Bars in Major Financial Distress During December

Research from Real Business Rescue reveals that 6,106 bars and pubs were experiencing significant financial distress in December.

The report also revealed that bars and pubs in significant distress are up 23% since before the pandemic (Q4 2021 vs Q4 2019), with too well I going one in six (16%) pubs and bars in significant distress is in the South East of England.

Shaun Barton, National Online Business Operations Director at Real Business Rescue, comments on why it’s vital to continue to support the hospitality sector: “Bars and pubs have missed out on one of their most profitable months of the year as December saw a rise in COVID-19 cases, leading to cancelled Christmas parties and other social events put on ice.

“Following this, our research shows that the hospitality sector has hit its worst months yet since before the pandemic, with more than 6,100 bars and pubs in significant financial distress. This is an increase of 23% from the same period before the pandemic began, where we saw 1,131 fewer pubs and bars in distress.

“With the rise of ‘Dry January’ in recent years in tandem with traditional New Year’s resolutions of committing to a healthier lifestyle, it’s likely to rub salt in the wounds for many hospitality businesses that are still reeling from their decimated Christmas trade.

“Search engine data shows a 900% increase in Google searches of the phrase ‘Dry January’ since the beginning of December, peaking on Boxing Day and continuing into the New Year. But, despite the good intentions of Dry January, it is not in support of the many bars and pubs struggling to stay afloat.

“With unanswered calls for further government support and many jobs at risk, businesses within the hospitality sector urgently need the nation to support them where possible, as they continue to suffer from the impacts of COVID-19.”

Last Friday (27th) Trade bodies and Europe’s largest consumer group, representing UK brewers, publicans, and beer lovers, penned an open letter to the Chancellor, the ‘One Voice for Beer’ group making clear their broad support for the Government’s Alcohol Duty Review, including key proposals that incentivise consumption of lower-strength products and, for the first time, recognise the important role of pubs within the duty regime.

They did however urge further action following an “incredibly tough” pandemic.

The intervention follows a fraught festive period, with trading down 30% on average across England during the second half of December, compared with 2019, according to data from CGA.

Tom Stainer, Chief Executive, Campaign for Real Ale, said: “After two years of COVID house arrest, we need to get people off the sofa and back into the great pubs, clubs and brewery bars across the country.

“Making it affordable to go and enjoy local, independent beers in the safe, social setting of your local pub will bring a myriad of benefits, not just to drinkers, but the local and national economies.”