The pub landscape has undergone various changes since the start of the century. The introduction of the Licensing Act in 2003 partly influenced new patterns in going out behavior, as pubs could theoretically operate for 24 hours instead of calling last orders at 11pm. The indoor smoking ban in 2007 also had implications for pub-goers, who were used to being allowed to smoke and drink inside. An increase in on-trade drink prices also deterred people from going to their local pub, instead choosing to purchase alcohol off-trade to consume at home, resulting in a higher volume share for the at-home alcohol market.
Such factors have likely contributed to pub closures across the country, with the number of drink-led pubs falling by 17.4 percent over a five-year period up to December 2019. However the market still shows a demand for pubs. Over the same period, food pubs only fell by 0.6 percent, and recent consumer spending on pubs, bars and clubs has been consistently higher than in previous years. New eating and drinking trends, and pubs catering to families and non-drinkers, have helped establishments continue to thrive, with over half of Brits claiming to still frequently eat and drink out in pubs.
A large proportion of pubs in the UK are now managed, branded or franchised. These tend to bring in a higher revenue than independently owned pubs. The biggest pub operators include Ei Group, Green King and Star Pubs & Bars. JD Wetherspoon is another popular chain of pubs operating as a single brand. As of 2019, there were 879 Wetherspoon pubs in operation across the UK and Ireland.