More than 6,000 hospitality venues shut their doors for good across the UK in the face of “seismic” pressures on the sector, according to new figures.
Industry leaders urged the Government to support pubs, bars and restaurants through reductions to tax and national insurance payments ahead of the Chancellor’s spring budget.
It came as the latest hospitality market monitor from CGA by NIQ and AlixPartners showed that 6,180 licensed premises had closed between December 2023 and the same month a year earlier.
It reflected a slight improvement in closures compared with the previous year, when 8,798 venues shut down.
But it means almost 23,000 venues have closed in total over the past three years after the heavy toll of the pandemic, cost-of-living crisis and interest rate rises.
Kate Nicholls, chief executive of industry group UKHospitality, said the situation was “unsustainable”.
She said: “These stark closure figures underline the seismic challenges facing hospitality businesses.
“It is now a case of supporting the sector or losing many businesses for good.
“It’s clear that endless price rises and an ever-growing tax burden has left businesses on the cliff edge, and has deterred investment.
“Venues have had no choice but to use their cash reserves to pay bills, keep the lights on and help people remain in jobs, instead of investing in and growing their businesses.”
The trade body has called for three main measures from the Chancellor to help support the sector.
UK Hospitality called for business rates, the property tax affecting high street firms, to see increases capped at 3% and avoid a 6.7% rise expected in April.
It has called for a temporary reduction in the lower rate of employer national insurance contributions to 10% and an increase to the threshold at which employers start paying contributions, ahead of a rise in the minimum wage.
The group urged Chancellor Jeremy Hunt to lower the rate of VAT for hospitality, leisure and tourism firms.
Ms Nicholls said: “With the right action from Government, this can be a short-term blip and the sector can fulfil its potential in driving economic growth, attracting investment and creating jobs.”
The latest data also showed a reduction in the number of new hospitality businesses opening their doors, with higher borrowing costs and worries about the economy weighing on new openings.