London Still Losing Pubs, Restos After Pandemic
A higher proportion of pubs, bars, restaurants and nightclubs have closed in central London than in most other British cities since the pandemic, according to new research, Tarah Welsh reported for BBC London.
Photo Insert: Italian restaurant chain Prezzo announced it would shut a third of its restaurants after being hit by rising costs for pizza and pasta ingredients and energy.
Data from consultants CGA and AlixPartners suggests the number of licensed premises since March 2020 declined 12% in British cities. However, in central London, it fell 15.6%, the third highest percentage.
This is equivalent to 540 closures, or one every two days. Even in the most recent quarter from December 2022 to March 2023, the number of venues in central London dropped by a further 1%.
The cost-of-living crisis has also affected other hospitality businesses, including some big chains. Italian restaurant chain Prezzo announced it would shut a third of its restaurants after being hit by rising costs for pizza and pasta ingredients and energy.
Carl Chessell, director of CGA, said: "The pandemic had a devastating impact on the hospitality sector and London was hit particularly hard with a reliance on office workers and tourists to help drive sales."
But Chessell said the good news was that "consumers continue to eat and drink out and hospitality is seen as an affordable treat that consumers want to prioritize."
Among London businesses struggling is Spice Box, which started seven years ago as a street food stall before its owner, Grace Regan, opened two restaurants in east London. However, she had to close her Leytonstone venue last year, and later closed down her Walthamstow restaurant, too.
"It's a really emotional day," she said and the rising cost of living was making the business unviable.
"Since COVID, we've seen about a 30% reduction in revenue… and on top of that I've seen a 15% increase in the cost of goods - that's food, takeaway packaging, drinks and energy of course - that's all impacting," she continued.