Crawley bucks national trend with town pubs

More pubs than 2001
More pubs than 2001

Crawley has more pubs now than it did in 2001, bucking the trend which is seeing chains focusing on big bars, resulting in smaller pubs closing.

Latest Office for National Statistics (ONS) analysis shows that there are around 4 pubs per 10,000 people.

This is lower than the UK average of 5.8 pubs.

The reports adds that ‘there are now around five more pubs in Crawley than in 2001’ (45 as opposed to 40).

It also says that in Crawley there are around 800 jobs in pubs and bars. This is 14.3% higher than in 2001.

This is in stark contrast to Horsham which has lost five or more pubs and there are now 6.8 pubs per 10,000 people.

The report ‘Economies of ale: small pubs close as chains focus on big bars’ looks at the overall picture.

More than 11,000 pubs have closed in the UK in the last decade – a fall of almost a quarter (23%).

ONS analysis shows that it’s small pubs that are disappearing, as the big pub chains consolidate their businesses around bigger bars.

In fact almost one in four UK pubs have closed since 2008.

Although lots of pubs have closed, the total turnover of pubs and bars has held up, remaining flat since 2008, once inflation is taken into account.

The remaining pubs and bars appear to have soaked up the custom from those pubs that have closed down.

Employment figures back this up: while the number of jobs in pubs dipped during the economic downturn, there are now 6% more jobs in pubs and bars than there were in 2008.

The largest increases have been in bigger pubs (those with 10 or more employees).

This may be because pubs are increasingly focussed on serving food as well as drink, which requires more waiting and kitchen staff.

The rise in employment has been more pronounced in rural pubs, where in 2018 total employment in England and Wales is up 17% compared with 2008. In contrast, total employment in urban pubs rose by only 4% over the same period.

Most jobs in the sector are low paid: around 70% of workers in pubs and bars are paid less than the Living Wage Foundation’s Living Wage. This rate, currently £10.55 per hour in London and £9 per hour elsewhere, is sometimes called the “real” living wage, and is based upon full-time workers being able to afford a basic set of goods and services.

The ONS says that most pubs in the UK are small, independently owned businesses – and it is mainly these kinds of pub that have closed over the last decade. But the number of independently-owned larger pubs is steadily rising.

Meanwhile, small pub chains, which are often regional, family-owned businesses, have also switched their focus away from small pubs towards medium and large bars.

And at the same time, the large “pubcos” (nationwide companies with 250 or more outlets) have almost completely abandoned small pubs, disposing of lots of them in the early 2000s, concentrating instead on their bigger bars.