‘No justification for prolonged closures’: Pub industry demands firm reopening date as beer sales plummet to lowest level since the 1920s
- Pub beer sales down 56% last year compared to 2019, the BBPA says
- BBPA says the ongoing shutdowns in the sector cannot be justified
- Sector wants a firm reopening date and ongoing support from the Government
- Pub beer sales have plummeted to lowest levels since the 1920s
Sales of beer in pubs more than halved last year and have fallen to the lowest level since the 1920s amid trading restrictions and lockdowns, the British Beer and Pub Association has revealed.
With pubs, bars, restaurants and nightclubs shut up and down the country, nearly £8billion worth of beer sales were lost in the past 12 months.
The BBPA is calling on the Government to provide the sector with a firm reopening date, as thousands of businesses and jobs remain at risk.
Having examined key data about where and how Covid-19 appears to be spreading, the BBPA said trading restrictions imposed on the hospitality sector could not be justified, even before the rollout of vaccines.
Data: Number of acute respiratory incidents by institution from 29 June to 31 January
In the second quarter of last year, pub and on-trade beer sales plummeted by 96 per cent, and even with the Eat Out to Help Out scheme in the summer, sales remained down over a quarter.
Pub beer sales were 77 per cent lower in the final three months of last year compared with 2019, as pubs were closed under various tier systems and an English national lockdown in November.
Philip Whitehead, chairman of the BBPA said the industry needs clarity about when it could expect to get back in business and start recovering.
He added: ‘After nearly a whole year under forced closure, or open but under severe restrictions, pub trade has been decimated and sales of beer in pubs have plummeted .
‘Furthermore, due to their revenue falling off a cliff in 2020, pubs are holding debt and have little to no cash left.
‘We need the government to continue to provide financial support for pubs when they reopen to bridge the gap to full recovery.’
The Government has said it will broadcast its roadmap plans for getting Britain’s businesses open again on 22 February.
Plans brewing? The Government has said it will broadcast its roadmap plans for getting Britain’s businesses open again on 22 February
The BBPA said: ‘While grateful for previous support, due to the levels of debt built up in the last 11 months the sector will not be able to bear additional business rates, VAT, beer duty and employment costs, even if all ongoing trading restrictions end in the Spring.
‘Even during the current lockdown, the sector is facing ongoing costs of upwards of £100m every month.’
Businesses in the sector have spent a total of around £500million making their premises compliant with health and safety rules in the wake of the pandemic.
The BBPA said there had been no spike in infections as a result of pubs being reopened at certain points last year.
It said: ‘We urge the Government to commit to the re-opening of all pubs in line with the wider economy once vulnerable groups have received the vaccine.
‘All current mandatory trading restrictions must be immediately reviewed and gradually removed as pubs reopen.’
Among other measures, the BBPA is calling on the Government to extend the business rates holiday this year and announce a 5 per cent cut in the beer duty rate at the Budget on 5 March.
The BBPA said that £1 in every £3 spent in pubs goes to the Exchequer, adding that the pubs and brewing sector supports around 900,000 jobs across the country.