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Survival of UK Pubs depends on £155M winter World Cup boost

UK pubs missed out on a staggering £155 million summer World Cup boost, new analysis has revealed.

The hospitality sector was already among the hardest hit by Covid-19, losing an eye watering average of £40,000 each due to the pandemic – almost double the £22,000 average losses reported by UK small businesses. Pub and brewing businesses across the UK are now at risk of closure due to out of control energy bills, with upwards of 300% price hikes reported.

Figures compiled by Simply Business found that, had the men’s England team reached the final of the World Cup this summer, an additional 38 million pints of beer would have been consumed in the UK. With the average price of a pint in the UK at £4.07, this has resulted in pubs missing out on a huge £154,660,000 in total.

If England hadn’t reached the final, pubs would have still expected to see 14 million extra pints poured during the group stages alone (3-5 million pints per England group game), meaning pub owners across the UK would still have missed out on a guaranteed summer boost of up to £57 million.

Though the winter competition will still attract punters, there is concern that the full effect of World Cup trade will not be felt, with pubs already naturally seeing an upturn in trade due to the festive period. The change in timing for the tournament has left a number of business owners concerned that they will have to choose between Christmas parties and World Cup viewings.

Ben Stanford who runs The George & Dragon in Much Wenlock comments: “The lack of summer tournament football has resulted in lost revenue, as we would have been showing all of the home nations games. I’m not sure how the rest of the year is going to pan out – the impending increase in energy costs could result in the pub closing all together. With the current cost of living situation, I’m not sure we’ll make much extra by showing the football in December.”

News of the government’s plans to cap fuel costs for businesses was welcomed in the SME community, as small business owners have been calling for an energy price cap for businesses. Pub owners in particular were looking to use the cap as a starting point to prevent them being forced to close before they can reap the rewards of the World Cup and festive period sales boost.

The analysis from Simply Business comes as pubs continue to close at an alarming rate, with pub numbers now at their lowest on record as inflation and rising costs eat into profit. The changes to VAT and business rates announced in this year’s Spring Statement will have also significantly hit the pockets of owners in these industries.

Alan Thomas, UK CEO at Simply Business, who did the analysis, said: “Pubs and independent hospitality businesses play an integral role in both our local communities and the success of the wider UK economy.

“Having been hit disproportionately by the impact of the pandemic, owners are now having to contend with soaring costs and rising energy prices – for many, this summer has been about survival as their recovery from the impact of the pandemic continues.

“This makes the lack of a summer World Cup an even bigger blow. Now more than ever, small businesses needed a boost. The surge in trade – to the tune of up to £155 million for UK pubs – would have come at a critical time for hospitality owners, many of whom are working hard to stay afloat while battling the impact of a surging cost of living.

“Looking ahead, as the winter World Cup overlaps with the festive season – another crucial time of year for the industry – pub owners will be forced to prioritise. For many, profits will inevitably be down, with publicans seeing their two busiest times of the year rolled into one.”

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