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UK pubs need £155m winter World Cup boost to survive

3-minute read

People watching sport in a pub
Catriona Smith

Catriona Smith

27 September 2022

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UK pubs missed out on a staggering £155 million summer World Cup boost, according to new analysis from Simply Business.

Businesses in the hospitality sector were already among the hardest hit by Covid-19, losing an average of £40,000 each due to the pandemic – almost double the £22,000 average losses reported by UK small businesses. Pub and brewing businesses across the UK are now at risk of closure due to out of control energy bills, with upwards of 300 per cent price hikes reported.

Based on estimated figures from The British Pub & Beer Association for previous tournaments, we can reveal just how many pints would have been sold if the World Cup had been shown in pubs this summer.

38 million pints would have been consumed

Had the men’s senior England team reached the final of the World Cup this summer, an additional 38 million pints of beer would have been consumed in the UK.

With the average price of a pint in the UK at £4.07, this has resulted in pubs missing out on a huge £154,660,000 in total.

Even if England hadn't reached the final, pubs would have expected to see 14 million extra pints poured during the group stages alone (three to five million pints for each England group game), meaning pub owners across the UK would still have missed out on a summer boost of up to £57 million.

Concern over clashes with festive trade

The World Cup 2022 is set to be hosted in Qatar and games will be played from 20 November to 18 December.

While usually games kick off in June and July, the tournament this year has been scheduled later to avoid Qatar’s intense summer heat.

This has a knock-on effect for UK pubs hoping to screen the games.

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While a winter World Cup will attract more people out, there’s concern pubs won't feel the full effect.

December is always a busy time for pubs with people socialising in the lead up to Christmas. A clash with a football tournament and the festive period could leave hospitality businesses needing to prioritise bookings and manage two busy calendar moments happening at the same time.

Ben Stanford, who runs The George & Dragon in Much Wenlock, comments: “The lack of summer tournament football has resulted in lost revenue, as we would have been showing all of the home nations games.

“I’m not sure how the rest of the year is going to pan out – the impending increase in energy costs could result in the pub closing all together. With the current cost of living situation, I’m not sure we’ll make much extra by showing the football in December.”

Pubs are closing at an alarming rate

News of the government’s plans to cap fuel costs for businesses has been welcomed, as small business owners have been calling for an energy price cap for businesses for months. And the mini-Budget announcement saw the government scrap the planned increase on alcohol duty.

Pub owners in particular were looking to use the energy cap as a starting point to prevent them being forced to close before they can reap the rewards of the World Cup and festive period sales boost.

Our analysis comes as pubs continue to close at an alarming rate. The number of pubs in England and Wales has fallen to its lowest level, according to research from real estate consultancy Altus Group, while record inflation and rising costs eat into profit.

‘Pub owners will be forced to prioritise’

Alan Thomas, UK CEO at Simply Business, comments: “Pubs and independent hospitality businesses play an integral role in both our local communities and the success of the wider UK economy.

“Having been hit disproportionately by the impact of the pandemic, owners are now having to contend with soaring costs and rising energy prices – for many, this summer has been about survival as their recovery from the impact of the pandemic continues.

“This makes the lack of a summer World Cup an even bigger blow. Now more than ever, small businesses needed a boost. The surge in trade – to the tune of up to £155 million for UK pubs – would have come at a critical time for hospitality owners, many of whom are working hard to stay afloat while battling the impact of a surging cost of living.

“Looking ahead, as the winter World Cup overlaps with the festive season – another crucial time of year for the industry – pub owners will be forced to prioritise. For many, profits will inevitably be down, with publicans seeing their two busiest times of the year rolled into one.”

Will the winter World Cup impact your business? Let us know in the comments.

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Photograph: Prostock-studio/
Catriona Smith

Written by

Catriona Smith

Catriona Smith is a content and marketing professional with 12 years’ experience across the financial services, higher education, and insurance sectors. She’s also a trained NCTJ Gold Standard journalist. As a Senior Copywriter at Simply Business, Catriona has in-depth knowledge of small business concerns and specialises in tax, marketing, and business operations. Catriona lives in the seaside city of Brighton where she’s also a freelance yoga teacher.

We create this content for general information purposes and it should not be taken as advice. Always take professional advice. Read our full disclaimer

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