Britain Is Losing Its Precious Pubs

Watering holes in Britain are closing at an alarming rate.

When you think about Britain, one of our first associations might be a dark and cozy wood-lined pub somewhere, pint of beer in hand. Unfortunately, you may have to start revising that mental image, because Bloomberg reports that pubs in England and Wales have been closing at an alarming rate—as many as two per day—in 2023. The institution of the British pub is dwindling.

Why Britain’s pubs are closing

Real estate company Altus Group has found that 383 taverns closed in England and Wales from in the first six months of this year. That's a significant number, especially given that 386 pubs closed across the entirety of 2022. While Wales has been the hardest hit this year with 52 pub closures so far, London has seen 46 pubs close as well.


Many of the problems facing pubs are similar to the ones facing establishments here in the United States, where staff shortages and rising costs have plagued businesses. Drinking habits are also changing, which means new customers aren't necessarily flowing in. And considering how dismally pubs fared during the beginning of the pandemic—it was estimated that every British adult needed to drink 124 pints of beer to reach pre-COVID business levels—it's not surprising that these watering holes are still scrambling to make up lost ground.

Relief isn't in sight yet, either. Bloomberg notes that pubs are currently in a period of receiving a tax reduction of up to £110,000, but this assistance is set to expire at the end of March 2024.


Some businesses are dealing with the issues in new (and potentially unwelcome) ways. The largest owner of pubs in Britain, Stonegate, recently enacted surge pricing in certain establishments; this means that a small surcharge is added to every drink within peak business hours to cover costs of staffing and to help subsidize specials during off-peak hours.

As of now, there are still more than 39,400 pubs left standing, so it's not as though the pub as we know it is going extinct. Still, it might take some highly creative approaches and continued government relief to keep the number of closures to a minimum, and of course each pub will be relying on the continued support of its regulars.