Pubs in the United Kingdom (UK) - statistics & facts

Public houses, or pubs, are a form of drinking establishment strongly associated with British culture and society. Traditionally serving a social purpose, as well as a pint, pubs have more recently become synonymous with bars and restaurants, with many now selling food in addition to alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages. In fact, serving food now accounts for an increasing share of UK bar and pub industry revenues. For many establishments, adapting to changing tastes has been a matter of survival, as more pub businesses are forced to close each year. The number of pubs operating in the UK was approximately 46,800 in 2020, down from 55,400 ten years earlier.

Key players in the UK pub market

A large proportion of pubs in the UK are now managed, branded or franchised. These tend to bring in a higher revenue to the UK pub industry than independently owned pubs. In 2020, some of the largest pub companies in the UK by number of units included Stonegate, Mitchell & Butlers, and JD Wetherspoon. In terms of the largest UK pub companies by revenue, Mitchell & Butlers and JD Wetherspoon took the lead. Ei Group was another leading pub company in the UK until its acquisition by Stonegate in March of 2020. The third most prevalent pub company in the UK, JD Wetherspoon, operates its popular pub chains as a single brand. As of 2020, there were 872 Wetherspoon pubs in operation across the UK and Ireland. Following a decade of year over year growth, JD Wetherspoon’s annual sales fell to 1.3 billion British pounds in 2020.

Impact of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic on the UK pub industry

The year over year decline in the number of pubs in the UK was exacerbated by the onset of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic in 2020. During COVID-19, indoor drinking and dining were prohibited in efforts to control the spread of the virus. This contributed to pub closures across the UK, with the number of drink-led pubs falling by 5.9 percent over the period from December 2019 until February 2021. Over the same period, food-led pubs fell by 9.2 percent. Consumer spending on pubs, bars, and clubs in the UK fell by over 96 percent in the first few months of the pandemic in 2020, and by the end of the year numbers still showed a decline in spending of over 70 percent. With the temporary closure of indoor dining in bars and restaurants, the habits of British consumers changed during the pandemic as well. Around 60 percent of Brits claimed that they never bought food or drinks in pubs, compared to under half of Brits in the year prior to the pandemic.

Interesting statistics

In the following 4 chapters, you will quickly find the 18 most important statistics relating to "Pubs in the United Kingdom (UK)".


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