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Quarter of pubs close as time is called on locals.

Byline: DEBORA ARU Data journalist echo.newsdesk@walesonline.co.uk

THE number of pubs has fallen by almost a quarter in Wales - as large chain bars force smaller locals out of business.

New Office for National Statistics data shows the country has lost nearly 700 pubs and bars since the turn of the century. The number has fallen from 2,900 in 2001 to 2,210 in 2018.

However, while the overall number of pubs and bars has fallen, the picture is very different for larger and smaller establishments.

The number of big pubs and bars - those with 10 or more employees - has actually risen from 520 to 750. The number of smaller pubs and bars has decreased over the same period, dropping from 2,385 to 1,450.

Experts have said it is "shocking" that so many "beloved locals" are closing down.

Cardiff saw the number of small pubs and bars fall by a fifth, with numbers down from 220 in 2001 to 175 in 2018. At the same time, the number of large pubs and bars in the area increased from 110 to 120.

Swansea follows the same trend. The number of pubs and bars has decreased from 200 to 160. The number of big pubs and bars increased from 60 to 65 while the small pubs with fewer than 10 employees fell from 140 to 95.

All numbers in the figures are rounded to the nearest five. The data also shows the total number of people working in all pubs and bars in Wales has increased from about 18,800 in 2001 to 22,000 in 2018 - though smaller establishments are still missing out.

The number working in smaller pubs and bars has been slashed from about 10,000 to about 6,000, while the number working in larger pubs and bars is actually up from 10,000 to 16,000.

Nationally, there were about 38,815 bars and pubs in 2018 - down from about 52,500 in 2001.

It means we have lost 13,685 pubs since the turn of the century - a fall of more than a quarter (26%).

While the number of small pubs has gone down from 38,830 to 22,840 during that time, the number of large pubs has actually risen from 13,670 to 15,975.

Although lots of pubs have closed, the total turnover of pubs and bars has held up - from PS23bn in 2001 in real terms to PS21bn in 2016.

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 more jobs in pubs (450,000) and bars than there were in 2001 (444,000).

That increase has been entirely fuelled by larger pubs, with employee numbers rising by 29% from 268,000 to 347,000.

According to the UK government, this may be because pubs are increasingly focused on serving food as well as drink, which requires more waiting and kitchen staff.

Tom Stainer, campaigns and communications officer for the Campaign for Real Ale (Camra), said: "These shocking new figures show the huge loss that has been felt by communities up and down the country as beloved locals have closed down.

"By focusing on the stability of turnover from pubs and bars since the recession this study fails to measure the loss of the benefits that local pubs bring to their communities.

"Pubs play a unique role in offering a social environment to enjoy a drink with friends, they help combat isolation and loneliness and help people feel connected to their community.

"With a quarter of pubs closing in the last decade, we need the government to act now to save our pubs from extinction."

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One of Cardiff 's most historic pubs, The Corporation, shut this year
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Publication:Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales)
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Dec 24, 2018
Words:663
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