The number of licensed premises in the UK has fallen by 3.6% over the last 12 months, according to CGA by NIQ and AlixPartners.

The latest Hospitality Market Monitor shows that the total of licences premises at the end of September 2023 fell to 99,916, marking the first time it has dropped below 100,000 in the history of CGA’s Hospitality Market Monitor. 

A 3,766 drop over the 12-month period is equivalent to more than 10 net closures every day.

However, the pace of venue closures has slowed in 2023, with a fall in licensed premises over the third quarter of 2023 of only 0.3%—equivalent to just under three net closures a day.

Karl Chessell, CGA by NIQ’s director - hospitality operators and food, EMEA, said that it is pleasing to see a slowdown in closures over the third quarter, ”though whether it is the beginning of a sustained positive trend or a lull remains to be seen.”

Meanwhile, the report flags a particularly robust quarter for the managed hospitality sector.

In the three months to September 2023, this segment achieved 0.5% growth, in contrast to a 0.6% drop in the number of independently-run venues.

Many of Britain’s biggest city centres also saw a net quarter-on-quarter increase in sites, including London, Manchester and Edinburgh.

”High inflation and interest rates are keeping a lid on consumer confidence, but the healthy growth in venues from multi-site managed groups is a positive sign of confidence from business leaders and investors”, Chessell added. 

”Despite the contraction in size in recent years, the long-term outlook for hospitality remains very good”, he said. 

Graeme Smith, AlixPartners’ managing director, added that while the number of licensed premises in the UK continue to fall, ”this masks an evolution of the market as it has become more varied and more innovative.”

”In addition, the standard of offer across the full spectrum of the hospitality industry has never been higher”, he added .

”It also marks a period when many operators have tentatively returned to the expansion trail, coupled with the continued entry of new concepts and international brands into the sector.

”If consumers continue to spend on hospitality and experiences in the face of more challenging economic conditions, we could see site numbers begin to expand again in 2024”, Smith added.