I was at a presentation the other day by CGA strategy, the company who does all the market stats for the UK on-trade market. Over the past couple of years, when you’ve seen grim headlines about the number of pubs closing every week, it’s been based on their figures.
Well, perhaps I’ve been too busy, or maybe it’s because good news never tends to get as much coverage as bad news, I seem to have missed their latest figures, whenever they came out. But while pubs are still closing at a depressing rate, it does seem as the the worst might be over – and the closure rate is falling faster than CGA had forecast.
They calculate the figure every six months, and the trend is as follows:
June 08 to December 08 – 39 net pub closures every week
December 08 to June 09 – 52 pub closures a week – the figure that really hit the headlines
June 09 to December 09 – 39 closures a week
December 09 to June 10 – 29 closures a week
As I said, 29 pubs every week is still a shocking rate of decline. We’re losing about five per cent of Britain’s pubs in less than a decade. But it has fallen by almost half in a year.
CGA reckon that the pubs that are closing are those that didn’t adapt to suit changing needs in the recession. That may be too much of a generalisation, but they’re probably right when they say the pubs left behind may be smaller in number, but will be stronger. They reckon proper recovery in the pub market will begin in 2013.
Another interesting stat is what happens to those closed down pubs? Property company Christies says that 60% of the boarded-up pubs they sell on eventually reopen as pubs. That will be included in CGA’s net figure. But it does show that there is still some dynamism in the pub market. Both the Jolly Butchers and Cask and Kitchen were failed pubs before they were taken over and relaunched as craft beer pubs.
So – hardly joyous tidings to shout from the rooftops. But as I’ve always maintained, reports of ‘the death of the pub’ are greatly exaggerated.