The iconic pub culture in Britain is facing its most formidable challenge yet, as closures of these cherished establishments soar to an all-time high. 

With the pub industry battling against numerous factors, from changing consumer preferences to economic pressures, the future of these social hubs is at stake. 


In addition to the 100s of thousands of jobs, and billions in revenue that are at risk, Britain stands to lose a time-honoured cornerstone of its culture as closures continue to sky-rocket. In this article, we take a deep dive into the factors leading up to this crisis, and the broader implications of the same.

Shifting Consumer Preferences

Over the past decade, consumer preferences have shifted dramatically, impacting the pub industry. A growing interest in health and wellness has led to declining alcohol consumption. 

Additionally, younger generations favor more diverse leisure activities and digital interactions, reducing their inclination toward traditional pub culture. These changing preferences have contributed to a decline in footfall, making it increasingly difficult for pubs to sustain their operations.

The things that we keep hearing about millennials and gen Z destroying entire businesses is holding up to be true. 

Fortunately, there are plenty of avenues for owners to revamp their operations and continue thriving in this new economy. For example, staff requirements can be reduced substantially using Ollie’s platform for brewery order fulfillment, along with a host of other tools and offerings.

Economic Pressures

The economic landscape has been particularly challenging for pubs in recent years, with rising costs, including business rates, rent, and wages, putting significant strain on pub owners. 

The introduction of the national living wage, coupled with uncertainties surrounding Brexit, has intensified financial burdens for the industry. Small and independent pubs, lacking the financial resources of larger chains, are particularly vulnerable to these economic pressures, resulting in closures at an alarming rate.

Impact of COVID-19

The COVID-19 pandemic has dealt a severe blow to the industry, with extended periods of closure during lockdowns, restricted operating hours, and social distancing requirements having severely disrupted the normal functioning of pubs. 

These restrictions, combined with reduced consumer confidence and lingering health concerns, have left many struggling to regain their pre-pandemic momentum. Despite government support schemes, such as the furlough scheme and business grants, the industry is faced with an uphill battle for survival.

Skyrocketing Business Rates

Skyrocketing business rates have exacerbated the challenges faced by pubs. According to the British Beer and Pub Association, pubs pay 2.8% of the total business rates bill, despite accounting for only 0.5% of total rateable business turnover. 

These exorbitant rates put a significant financial strain on pub owners, making it increasingly difficult to turn a profit. Calls for a reform of the business rates system have grown louder, with industry advocates arguing that it is essential for the survival of Britain’s pubs.

Competition From Supermarkets & Online Retail

Another significant challenge for pubs is the increasing competition from supermarkets and online retail. With the convenience of purchasing alcohol from supermarkets at lower prices and the rise of online alcohol delivery services, consumers have more options than ever. 

This has led to declining pub visits and reduced alcohol sales within these establishments. The ability to enjoy drinks at home without needing transportation or social interaction has impacted the footfall and profitability of pubs, further contributing to their closure rates.

Wrapping Up

The struggles faced by Britain’s pubs have reached an unprecedented level, with closures hitting an all-time high. Beyond the jobs, taxes, and revenues, it is the nation’s culture and heritage itself that remains at stake.

This makes it all the more crucial for stakeholders, including the government, industry advocacy groups, and local communities to come together and support their local pubs and breweries. Failure to do so, will mean losing an institution that has long held its place in the very soul of Britain.