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British pubs and bars suffer as drinkers stay at home

The British high streets are weathering the “most testing retail and leisure climate in five years”, with pubs, bars and restaurants hit by growth in entertaining at home.

Pubs and bars on the British high street have been hit by the growth of in-home leisure

According to a new report by consultancy PwC, after “rapid expansion” in 2016/17, pubs, bars and restaurants have been hit by cost inflation and oversupply.

In the first six months of this year, restaurant, catering and entertainment chains saw a net loss of 340 stores, while other leisure categories such as bars and bookmakers were placed just outside of the top five fastest-declining high street establishments.

As consumers move their shopping online, the British high street has suffered its largest half-year net decline in stores in five years, as the gap between openings and closures widens.

In total, 1,123 stores disappeared from Britain’s top 500 high streets in the first half of 2018 – only 1,569 stores opened, while 2,692 closed, the equivalent of 14 closures a day.

“Our latest research highlights the challenges facing the retail and leisure sectors on Britain’s high streets,” said Lisa Hooker, consumer markets leader at PwC.

“The continued rate of store closures reflects the new reality that many of us prefer to shop online and increasingly eat, drink and entertain at home. The high street is adapting to an overcapacity in retail and leisure space resulting from these channel shifts.

“Openings simply aren’t replacing the closures at a fast enough rate.”

The turmoil facing the sector “is unlikely to abate”, according to Hooker, with administrations and company voluntary arrangements (CVAs) set to intensify pressure.

“The British high street is in urgent need of new ways of thinking and new forms of retail,” she said. “Encouraging this should be a priority, and it remains to be seen if recent packages of support for the high street and reductions in business rates for smaller retailers will be sufficient to stimulate this.”

Last month, a study by The Portman Group claimed that bars and restaurants could be crucial to saving the “beleaguered” high street by boosting the night-time economy.

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