Quarterly Trends Report

Q4 2020: What’s going out while we’re staying in

  • Multi Asset
  • Consumer
  • Europe

Successive lockdowns and restrictions on socialising have devastated the UK’s pub industry. Although government support has extended a lifeline, the road ahead looks to be on the rocks. The vaccine rollout, albeit positive for recovery prospects, is coinciding with an uptick in mutations spreading across the country, making it difficult to ascertain when pubs will be able to reopen. However, with the population forced to stay in, consumer behaviour is evolving, and consequently other businesses are flourishing — with delivered meal kits a pertinent example. Our Interviews have explored both sides of this coin.

Data show the stark regional variety of impacts. Sales collapsed, a former senior executive from Punch Taverns Ltd told Third Bridge Forum, citing CGA data, with tier 1 down by 27%, tier 2 by 54% and tier 3 by 62% on a YoY basis. There was, again, disparity according to where these pubs are located, as a director at EI Group plc explained: “city centres have been the victims of this pandemic, because, even today, large city centres are half the places that they were before. Interestingly… community suburban pubs recovered quite quickly.” Pubs have been disappearing at a high rate over the past decade — 914 in 2018 and 994 in 2019 — and this will be exacerbated by current conditions. “My estimation is circa 2,000 pubs will be lost from the industry over the next 12-18 months, probably nearer 18 months”, stated the EI Group executive.

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