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16th January 2020

Economies of ale: changes in the UK pubs and bars sector, 2001 to 2019

Despite a small rise in the number of pubs of all sizes this year, the overall number of pubs in the UK had previously been dropping for over a decade. Previously, ONS reported that this fall was mainly driven by small pubs – employing fewer than 10 people – closing. The figures showed that the number of medium sized and large pubs was actually growing.

Figures published today show that, while the total number of pubs fell from 51,120 to 39,130 between 2007 and 2019, total employment grew from 426,000 to 457,000 over the same period.

Today ONS has also published figures showing that the growth in employment has been driven by customers eating, rather than drinking, with the share of pub employees working as bar staff falling from 37.6% in 2007 to 28.9% in 2019, while the percentage employed as kitchen and waiting staff increased from 29.1% to 43.8% over the same period.

Commenting, senior statistician Hugh Stickland said:

“While smaller pubs have been struggling to survive in recent years, bigger pubs have been growing in number. This growth has been driven by food rather than drink and we’ve seen a big rise in the number of people employed as pub kitchen and waiting staff.

“The latest year, however, shows the first rise in total numbers since before the financial crisis, with growth in pubs of all sizes. We’ll have to wait to see if this marks a revival for smaller ‘locals’.”

The full Economies of ale: changes in the UK pubs and bars sector, 2001 to 2019 report can be found here

The Office for National Statistics produces the numbers that matter most – on the economy and business, people, population and communities. Operating impartially and free of political control, we are mobilising the power of data to help Britain make better decisions and improve lives.

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