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COVID-19 UPDATE - devastating for pubs says BBPA

Updated: May 7, 2020

The coronavirus has totally devastated beer sales and the British pub industry, as detailed below by the bleak report from trade body the British Beer & Pub Association. There has been some government help for desperate publicans, but here the BBPA calls for further assistance to ensure that our 'vital socially, culturally and economically' pubs survive. As we all look forward to reurning to, eventually, to our locals we should all get behind that.


British Beer & Pub Association highlights the immediate and devastating impact of lockdown on the nation’s pubs; Pub sales in April to be zero

Pub beer sales collapsed by 40% in March 2020 compared to the same period in 2019, new figures from the British Beer & Pub Association, the leading trade association representing brewers and pubs, reveal.

The BBPA says the stark decrease shows the immediate and devastating impact that lockdown is having on the great British pub.

On Monday 16th March 2020, Prime Minister Boris Johnson advised members of the public to avoid the pub. By Friday 20th, he had ordered pubs to close – stopping their businesses overnight and making them the first sector to be hit by the COVID-19 crisis.

Sales in the ‘off-trade’ – such as supermarkets and off-licenses – were up 10.6% on the same period last year. The uplift, however, did not make up for the huge loss of beer sales in pubs, resulting in total beer sales in March 2020 down 12.7% when compared to March 2019.

The data is a clear demonstration of the cliff-edge impact of the Prime Minister’s advice to avoid pubs, followed by the order for them to close for lockdown. With March data showing the impact of 11 days of closure on pubs, April`s data will reveal the full impact of total closure with no sales in pubs at all.

Whilst the Government has given pubs some financial support to help them through the COVID-19 lockdown, which the BBPA has welcomed, the trade association has identified significant gaps that the Government needs to fill.

In particular, 10,000 of the UK’s 47,000 pubs have not been offered any Government grant support, because they have a rateable value above the arbitrary £51k threshold. This has left some of the UK’s most iconic and well-loved pubs – who between them support thousands of jobs and contribute a huge amount to their local economies and communities – in desperate need of support and facing a real risk of closing forever.

As the social hub that binds communities together, the British Beer & Pub Association is pressing the Government to take action and give more vital support to Britain’s pubs to not only help them survive the lockdown, but also allow them to get back on their feet when it is safe to do so.

Emma McClarkin, Chief Executive of the British Beer & Pub Association, said:

“These stark figures reveal how the lockdown is having a devastating impact on our pubs.

“The cliff-edge impact on our sector in March, when people were told to stop going to the pub and then pubs were shutdown, is clear to see. In April, beer sales for pubs will be zero. This is devastating our sector, who still have huge fixed costs to cover, far in excess of the sales revenue and financial support they are receiving from Government right now.

“Local pubs are the heart of our communities. They are vital socially, culturally and economically. Without further support, particularly for the 10,000 pubs who aren’t getting any grants, many pubs across the UK are in real jeopardy of being lost forever.

“When this crisis is over, the first place many will want to visit with their friends, family and neighbours is their local pub. The Government must invest in them now to save them for the future.”

Let's all look forward to our locals reopening

Notes to editors:

The British Beer & Pub Association is the leading body representing Britain’s brewers and pub companies. The Association is more than a century old and was originally founded as the Brewers’ Society in 1904. Our members account for some 90 per cent of beer brewed in Britain today, and own around 20,000 of the nation’s pubs.

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