"Pubs are closing at a rate of around 25 a week"
Toby Perkins MP, 12 January 2012
Yesterday, Labour's Shadow Minister for Small Business, Toby Perkins MP,attacked the coalition for failing to support a statutory code of conduct protecting pub tenants. In doing so, he claimed that 25 pubs were closing every week.
Are we shedding our bars at such a rate? Full Fact took a look.
In investigating pub closures in August 2010, Full Fact highlighted the effects of category shifts, where a venue in one category which moves to another category is deemed to have closed and re-opened. CGA Strategy, the company who publish statistics on how many pubs open and close, currently use a system of 68 categories of venue.
It is therefore difficult to get an accurate figure for pub closures, as some pubs may be reclassified as another type of pub (and therefore count as closing and reopening), whilst others may be reclassified as another type of venue entirely, such as a restaurant.
Consequently, the number of net closures is usually calculated to provide a more accurate measure of how many pubs have closed. This is done by subtracting the recorded number of openings from the recorded number of closings.
However, this can skew the results. For instance, if two pubs close, one pub opens, and one pub changes categories, this would be logged as three closures and two openings. The logged openings are then subtracted from the logged closures, resulting in a net closing of just one.
Mr Perkins' figure appears to be taken from the CGA survey of pubs commissioned by the British Beer and Pub Association (BBPA) in 2010. The BBPA note that "net closures have been calculated based on openings minus closings in order to take pubs transferring between categories into account". Over this period, there were on average 47 closures per week and 23 openings, resulting in 25 net closures per week.
The BBPA have now released updated figures which include closures between December 2010 and June 2011. According to these figures, on average 28 pubs were closing per week in the six months up until June 2011 while there were only 14 net closures per week.
In the context of previous results, although there are currently more closures than openings, the number of closures is dropping. For example, between December 2008 and June 2009, there were 1,861 closures (72 per week) and 1,352 net closures (52 per week).
The number of pubs closing per week depends on the definition of 'pubs closing'. If the raw number of closures is used, then the claim underestimates the number of pubs closing. However, the most up-to-date net number of closures is much lower at 14 pubs per week — a figure which is dropping and is at its lowest since June 2008.
On 23 January IPPR published updated data courtesy of the latest statistics available from GCA Strategy. The latest figures show that the number of pubs closing rose to 16 per week in the second half of 2011, up from 14 per week between January and June of last year.