Are pubs making a comeback?

Most people around the world know that British pubs are a national institution but from 2001 to 2018, 25% of our pubs closed due to the changing nature of our societies, work-life patterns, availability of cheaper drinks elsewhere and other factors such as the use of social-media which has reduced people actually going out and the banning of smoking back in the time of Tony Blair which showed up the fact that the heavy smoking pub-goers also drank a lot and the people who complained about the fact that they would go to pubs more if only there was no smoke, largely didn’t.   The pub trade was also affected by devastating changes to business taxes and alcohol duties.

However, the decline of the British pub may have not just ended but gone into reverse as for the first time in over a decade we have ended up with 320 more pubs than a year earlier with Office of National Statistics recording 39,135 pubs nationwide.


Whilst still much reduced from the turn of the millennia and only a fraction compared to a century earlier it marks a dramatic turnaround compared compared with recent years when around 732 pubs a year closed on average.

The upturn in fortunes is likely to increase further with chains such as Wetherspoon announcing £200 million expansion plans for additional pubs which will also create 10,000 new jobs.

What is it that it behind the reversal of fortunes is hard to pin down but it seems pubs have upped their game somewhat with improved food menus and some offering accommodation and more or better live music, almost as they would have once been the centre of the community in centuries gone by.

In fact communities have played an important role as recently introduced powers have allowed communities to save their beloved locals from redevelopment into more lucrative housing.   With the continued stagnation of high-street shopping and so many other places where people can stop and interact in a leisurely manner with strangers and friends alike, pubs are becoming even more vital for those who want to mingle and spend time with living people rather than screens.

Booming cities and tourist hotspots in the countryside are doing best of all but in other places such as the suburbs where there can be a near dearth of community spirit and more impoverished towns and rural areas where there isn’t the spare cash, pubs are still closing down.

Through Ye Olde England Tours, I do some great pub tours to authentic pubs that are mostly well away from the tourist crowds so if you fancy a good walk, history and the odd drink then why not join me and find out just how great and different British pubs can be.

About Stephen Liddell

I am a writer and traveller with a penchant for history and getting off the beaten track. With several books to my name including several #1 sellers. I also write environmental, travel and history articles for magazines as well as freelance work. I run my private tours company with one tour stated by the leading travel website as being with the #1 authentic London Experience. Recently I've appeared on BBC Radio and Bloomberg TV and am waiting on the filming of a ghost story on British TV. I run my own private UK tours company (Ye Olde England Tours) with small, private and totally customisable guided tours run by myself!
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6 Responses to Are pubs making a comeback?

  1. Ankur Mithal says:

    While a drink might promote conversation, food remains an essential human need. ImHO pubs would be well advised to not be known for bad food. I see coffee shops in India, a more recent development, making the same mistake. Offering bad quality food.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes, food in British pubs is what can make or break them. One pub not too far from me was always doing very good business with amazing food and then new owners took over and they had no idea and the pub almost closed before the original people bought it again and made it a success. Quite often you get very good chefs from top hotels or restaurants who want to wind down and they either takeover or work in pubs and you get this incredible sometimes Michelin starred level of food and then you get people who think it will be easy but have no experience and it all goes horribly wrong. I guess that is the situation with some of the new coffee shops in India. People forget that if you are expecting people to pay for food they can have more cheaply at home then it has to be of good quality and in a pleasant environment.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. nitinsingh says:

    British pub 🍺🍺🍻 a part of history
    Looks good , furniture, colour, n everything 🙃🙃🙃

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Yeah I so agree with you on the food. People come back for the food if it’s really good don’t they. I am so glad that there has been a reversal in trend with many people coming back to pubs, they are the centre of life in the UK. I come from the southern hemisphere -Australia and NZ the pubs there are OK and some are old and authentic,but you can’t beat a British pub!

    Liked by 1 person

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