You asked

Following your recent release of the Article published on your website -

Economies of ale: small pubs close as chains focus on big bars

I quote in your article you state "ONS data confirm the large fall in the number of pubs, from around 50,000 pubs in 2008 to around 39,000 pubs in 2018.", however following the links to the industry reports you reference in your article the number differentiates to theirs by around 9,000 pubs.

Using the links provided on your article the BBPA shows the total number of pubs in the UK to be 48,350 in 2017

Furthermore, the link to the CAMRA article states 47,500 pubs in the UK are used for their reports, published in August 2018 -

Please can you explain which of these figures is correct, and what causes a significant difference in the information you are publishing to the leading industry reports?

We said

Thank you for your request.

The BBPA numbers are about 10,000 higher than ours, but the trend in closures is roughly the same. The BBPA have a broader definition of pubs which includes some hotels, inns and restaurants.

Our numbers include those businesses on the interdepartmental business register which have been classified by the business itself as a “public house or bar” (SIC 2007 code 56.30/2).

Hotels, licensed restaurants and licensed clubs have different SIC codes, but in some cases may be included as pubs on other organisation’s data bases. For example, a hotel bar which serves non-guests, a gastro-pub which is registered as a restaurant, or a traditional working-man’s social club with a bar.

More detail is given at:



Licensed Restaurants:


CAMRA numbers track pub closures, and are compiled by volunteers in local areas. Our data measures the net number of open pubs in a given area, in a given year, and are compiled from administrative sources including tax records.

In addition, CAMRA has a very specific definition: It must be:

  • a licensed premises

  • open to and welcome the general public without requiring membership or residency

  • allow free entry

  • serve at least one draught beer or cider

  • allow drinking without requiring food to be consumed

  • have at least one indoor area not laid out for meals

  • permit drinks to be purchased at a bar without relying on table service