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9th December 2022

Survival of UK pubs hinges on £155 million winter World Cup boost – but will they even make it to Christmas

  • Pubs continue to close at an alarming rate, with pub numbers now at their lowest on record; Owners will now have to choose between hosting Christmas parties or showing the World Cup 
  • An additional 38 million pints of beer would have been consumed in the UK had England reached a World Cup Final
  • A Simply Business report found that over half (54%) of small and medium sized businesses in the UK say that rising fuel and energy costs are one of their greatest threats to survival, with three in five (59%) wanting a review of the energy price cap.
  • The controversial decision to host the 2022 World Cup in winter has led to UK pubs missing out on a huge £155 million in sales this summer

UK pubs missed out on a staggering £155 million[1] summer World Cup boost, new analysis from small business insurance provider Simply Business has revealed. 

The hospitality sector was already among the hardest hit by Covid-19, losing an eye watering average of £40,000 each due to the pandemic – almost double the £22,000 average losses reported by UK small businesses[2]. Pub and brewing businesses across the UK are now at risk of closure due to out of control energy bills, with upwards of 300% price hikes reported.[3]

Figures compiled by Simply Business found that, had the men’s England team reached the final of the World Cup this summer, an additional 38 million pints of beer would have been consumed in the UK[4]. With the average price of a pint in the UK at £4.07, this has resulted in pubs missing out on a huge £154,660,000 in total. 

If England hadn’t reached the final, pubs would have still expected to see 14 million extra pints poured during the group stages alone (3-5 million pints per England group game), meaning pub owners across the UK would still have missed out on a guaranteed summer boost of up to £57 million. 

Though the winter competition will still attract punters, there is concern that the full effect of World Cup trade will not be felt, with pubs already naturally seeing an upturn in trade due to the festive period. The change in timing for the tournament has left a number of business owners concerned that they will have to choose between Christmas parties and World Cup viewings. 

Ben Stanford who runs The George & Dragon in Much Wenlock comments: “The lack of summer tournament football has resulted in lost revenue, as we would have been showing all of the home nations games. I’m not sure how the rest of the year is going to pan out – the impending increase in energy costs could result in the pub closing all together. With the current cost of living situation, I’m not sure we’ll make much extra by showing the football in December.” 

News of the government’s plans to cap fuel costs for businesses was welcomed in the SME community, as small business owners have been calling for an energy price cap for businesses. Pub owners in particular were looking to use the cap as a starting point to prevent them being forced to close before they can reap the rewards of the World Cup and festive period sales boost. 

The analysis from Simply Business comes as pubs continue to close at an alarming rate, with pub numbers now at their lowest on record as inflation and rising costs eat into profit.[5] The changes to VAT and business rates announced in this year’s Spring Statement will have also significantly hit the pockets of owners in these industries. 

Alan Thomas, UK CEO at Simply Business, said: “Pubs and independent hospitality businesses play an integral role in both our local communities and the success of the wider UK economy. 

“Having been hit disproportionately by the impact of the pandemic, owners are now having to contend with soaring costs and rising energy prices – for many, this summer has been about survival as their recovery from the impact of the pandemic continues. 

“This makes the lack of a summer World Cup an even bigger blow. Now more than ever, small businesses needed a boost. The surge in trade – to the tune of up to £155 million for UK pubs –  would have come at a critical time for hospitality owners, many of whom are working hard to stay afloat while battling the impact of a surging cost of living. 

“Looking ahead, as the winter World Cup overlaps with the festive season – another crucial time of year for the industry – pub owners will be forced to prioritise. For many, profits will inevitably be down, with publicans seeing their two busiest times of the year rolled into one.” 



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How is the £155 million world cup loss calculated?

  • Figure calculated using  data provided by the British Pub & Beer Association based on previous summer tournaments, and on the assumption that England would qualify for the final of the tournament. Figure calculated using the average price of a pint in the UK (£4.07). 
  • Group Stages: Data based on numbers from previous tournaments. 14 million extra pints expected during the group stages (3-5 million per England group game). There are also smaller boosts in the home nations for their games, as well as a smaller still boost for other games not involving a home nation which is included in the final figure.
  • As the importance of each knockout game increases, and excitement grows, the per match boost goes up each time[6]
    • Round of 16: 5 million
    • Quarter Finals: 6 million
    • Semi Final: 6 million
    • Final: 7 million
  • Group Stages (14m) + Round of 16 (5m) + Quarter Final (6m) + Semi Final (6m) + Final (7m) x Average cost of pint in the UK (£4.07) = £154,660,000

About Simply Business 

Simply Business is one of the UK’s biggest business insurance providers, specialising in public liability insurance for SMEs and insuring over 850,000 small businesses and landlords across the UK.

Launched in 2005, Simply Business provides an online brokerage service, delivering policies tailored to individual business requirements. Using the power of tech and data to create the best possible customer experiences, Simply Business employs over 1,000 people across offices in London, Northampton, plus 200 in Boston, Massachusetts in the US.

Owing to its internal underwriting capability, Simply Business can cover over 1,000 trade types – ranging from plumbers to accountants to dog walkers. An accredited B Corp for their positive social impact, Simply Business has also been voted the Sunday Times Best Company To Work For twice in a row.

[1] See methodology

[2] Simply Business, Impact of Covid-19 on UK SMEs, 2021

[3] See methodology

[4] See methodology

British Beer & Pub Association, Pubs and brewers send urgent warning of closures and job losses amidst soaring energy bills, August 2022

[5] Pub numbers fall to lowest on record,, July 2022

[6] According to The Beer and Pub Association

Press release from FRank.

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