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UK Pub Visiting market report

Everything you need to make the right decisions

Providing the most comprehensive and up-to-date information and analysis of the Pub Visiting market, and the behaviours, preferences and habits of the consumer.

Mintel has the answers you’re looking for

What are the key challenges facing the industry and how fast are its rates of growth? Who is the consumer and what do they want? Where are the opportunities, where are the risks and what lies ahead?

Covered in this report

This Report examines the market for pub visiting, with the primary focus on drinking in pubs/bars. A separate Mintel Report, Pub Catering – UK, May 2018, looks at the role of food in pubs in more detail. The market size in this Report refers to pub sales of food, alcohol, soft drinks and other items such as from snacks and vending machines.

All pubs (public houses) and bars have on-trade licences to serve alcoholic drink for consumption on the premises. These licences may also be granted to other outlets, such as hotels or cinemas, but a pub has at least some traditional characteristics that differentiate it from other bars.

Most pubs trace their heritage to close links, or ‘ties’, to a local brewery. The brewery traditionally owned the freehold, or a long lease, on the property and then either sublet it to a tenant (tenanted pubs) or installed its own landlord to run it (the managed estate). The managed/tenanted distinction still pertains to many ‘estates’ (owned groups) of pubs, but tenancies have often been replaced by more modern, long-term leases (leased pubs).

A ‘pubco’ (pub company) is independent from the control of a brewer, although it may negotiate long-term supply contracts with a single brewer and thus maintain close links with the brewing industry. Leased/tenanted companies make most of their money from supplying beer and other drinks to their tenants at wholesale prices. A free house has no contract to a specific pubco or brewer, and is run as an entirely independent business.

‘Wet sales’ refers to a pub’s turnover from drinks and ‘dry sales’ refers to its food turnover.

Expert analysis from a specialist in the field

Written by Emma Clifford, a leading analyst in the Food & Drink sector, her extensive knowledge delivers in-depth commentary and analysis to highlight current trends and add expert context to the numbers.

Millennials are particularly likely to view pubs as all-round leisure experiences and are receptive to new and more unusual forms of entertainment. The difficulty for landlords will be to cater for these more open-minded pub-goers while also meeting the needs of more traditional patrons who tend to see the pub as a more relaxed venue. Emma Clifford
Food & Drink

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Table of contents

  1. Overview

    • What you need to know
      • Covered in this report
      • Executive Summary

          • The market
            • Premiumisation helps drinks sales to rise strongly in 2017
              • Figure 1: Forecast for total UK pub industry revenues, 2012-22
            • Food becomes more important in many pubs
              • A changing pub landscape
                • Pub closures remain commonplace
                  • Pub operators continue to face rising costs
                    • The soft drinks levy arrives
                      • Companies and brands
                        • Market overview
                          • Operator overview
                            • The consumer
                              • 88% of Brits visit pubs
                                • Figure 2: Visiting pubs/bars to eat or drink in, by time of day, March 2017 vs April 2018
                              • Friends are key for driving pub visits
                                • Visiting pubs with others generates the highest share of £25+ spending
                                  • Live music is the most popular source of entertainment for pub visitors
                                    • Figure 3: Pub activities and sources of entertainment, April 2018
                                  • Clean toilets and high quality food important for the majority
                                    • High prices and long waits are the main pub deterrents
                                      • Figure 4: Factors which deter pub visits, April 2018
                                    • What we think
                                    • Issues and Insights

                                      • Drinks companies are rebuilding their pub estates
                                        • The facts
                                          • The implications
                                            • Rising wages put a further squeeze on profit margins
                                              • The facts
                                                • The implications
                                                  • The importance of cask and pub/brewer collaboration
                                                    • The facts
                                                      • The implications
                                                        • Pubs can act as entertainment venues
                                                          • The facts
                                                            • The implications
                                                            • The Market – What You Need to Know

                                                              • Premiumisation helps drinks sales to rise strongly in 2017
                                                                • Food becomes more important in many pubs
                                                                  • A changing pub landscape
                                                                    • Pub closures remain commonplace
                                                                      • Pub operators continue to face rising costs
                                                                        • The soft drinks levy arrives
                                                                        • Market Size and Forecast

                                                                          • Increasing costs mean pubs need to grow sales to stand still
                                                                            • Food and drink sales boost pub revenues
                                                                              • Figure 5: UK pub industry market size and forecast, 2012-22
                                                                              • Figure 6: Forecast for total UK pub industry revenues, 2012-22
                                                                            • Forecast methodology
                                                                              • Premiumisation helps drinks sales to rise strongly in 2017
                                                                                • Figure 7: Estimated UK pub industry turnover, by segment, 2013-17
                                                                                • Figure 8: Forecast of UK pub industry turnover, by segment, 2018-22
                                                                              • Pub meals rising to account for nearly a third of pub sales
                                                                                • Soft drink sales stumble in 2017
                                                                                • Market Segmentation

                                                                                  • A changing pub landscape
                                                                                    • Figure 9: Estimated composition of pub industry venue numbers, 2018
                                                                                    • Figure 10: Estimated share of revenues in the pub industry, by type of venue, 2018
                                                                                  • Managed pubs industry revenues
                                                                                    • Figure 11: Turnover of selected leading managed pub operators in the UK, 2012/13-2016/17
                                                                                    • Figure 12: Turnover of selected leading tenanted/leased pub operators in the UK, 2012/13-2016/17
                                                                                  • The tenanted/leased segment struggles
                                                                                    • Free houses on the up
                                                                                    • Market Drivers

                                                                                      • Brexit uncertainty for pubs sector
                                                                                        • Pub closures remain commonplace
                                                                                          • Pub operators continue to face rising costs
                                                                                            • National Living Wage and National Minimum Wage
                                                                                              • Apprenticeship Levy
                                                                                                • Revaluation of business rates
                                                                                                  • Alcohol duty continues to rise
                                                                                                    • Figure 13: UK excise duty rates for beer and other alcoholic drinks, 2007-17
                                                                                                  • Utilities and live sport costs add pressures on publicans
                                                                                                    • Figure 14: Utility prices paid by non-domestic consumers (including the Climate Change Levy), 2007-17*
                                                                                                  • Sports TV subscriptions
                                                                                                    • New Pubs Code for tied leased and tenancy agreements
                                                                                                      • Late-night legislation remains a controversial subject
                                                                                                        • Additional late-night schemes and initiatives
                                                                                                          • Local Alcohol Action Areas
                                                                                                            • Best Bar None
                                                                                                              • Purple Flag
                                                                                                                • Business Improvement Districts
                                                                                                                  • National Pubwatch
                                                                                                                    • The soft drinks levy arrives
                                                                                                                      • New alcohol guidelines and cutting back on alcohol
                                                                                                                        • Pubs have less appeal to an ageing population
                                                                                                                          • Figure 15: Change in age structure of the UK population, 2012-17 and 2017-22
                                                                                                                      • Companies and Brands – What You Need to Know

                                                                                                                        • Market overview
                                                                                                                          • Ei Group focuses more on managed operations such as The Craft Union Pub Company
                                                                                                                            • Greene King’s Spirit estate boosts revenues
                                                                                                                              • JD Wetherspoon continues to grow despite a reduced estate
                                                                                                                                • Mitchells & Butlers (M&B) raises money by disposing of sites
                                                                                                                                  • Punch Taverns acquired by Heineken and Patron Capital
                                                                                                                                  • Selected Leading Companies

                                                                                                                                      • Market overview
                                                                                                                                        • Figure 16: Selected leading pub operators in the UK, by outlet numbers, 2013-17
                                                                                                                                      • Ei Group (formerly Enterprise Inns)
                                                                                                                                        • Company overview
                                                                                                                                          • Financial performance
                                                                                                                                            • Figure 17: Key financial data for Enterprise Inns (Ei Group) Plc, 2013-17
                                                                                                                                            • Figure 18: Enterprise Inns (Ei Group) Plc turnover, by segment, 2013-17
                                                                                                                                          • Selected recent activity and innovation
                                                                                                                                            • Greene King
                                                                                                                                              • Company overview
                                                                                                                                                • Financial performance
                                                                                                                                                  • Figure 19: Key financial data for Greene King Plc, 2013-17
                                                                                                                                                  • Figure 20: Greene King Plc revenue, by segment, 2013-17*
                                                                                                                                                • Selected recent activity and innovation
                                                                                                                                                  • JD Wetherspoon
                                                                                                                                                    • Company overview
                                                                                                                                                      • Financial performance
                                                                                                                                                        • Figure 21: Key financial data for JD Wetherspoon Plc, 2013-17
                                                                                                                                                      • Selected recent activity and innovation
                                                                                                                                                        • Mitchells & Butlers
                                                                                                                                                          • Company overview
                                                                                                                                                            • Financial performance
                                                                                                                                                              • Figure 22: Key financial data for Mitchells & Butler Plc, 2013-17
                                                                                                                                                            • Selected recent activity and innovation
                                                                                                                                                              • Punch Taverns
                                                                                                                                                                • Company overview
                                                                                                                                                                  • Financial performance
                                                                                                                                                                    • Figure 23: Key financial data for Punch Taverns Plc, 2013-17
                                                                                                                                                                    • Figure 24: Punch Taverns Plc revenue, by segment, 2013-17
                                                                                                                                                                  • Selected recent activity and innovation
                                                                                                                                                                  • The Consumer – What You Need to Know

                                                                                                                                                                    • 88% of Brits visit pubs
                                                                                                                                                                      • Friends are key for driving pub visits
                                                                                                                                                                        • Visiting pubs with others generates the highest share of £25+ spending
                                                                                                                                                                          • Live music is the most popular source of entertainment for pub visitors
                                                                                                                                                                            • Clean toilets and high quality food important for the majority
                                                                                                                                                                              • High prices and long waits are the main pub deterrents
                                                                                                                                                                              • Frequency of Visiting Pubs/Bars

                                                                                                                                                                                • 88% of Brits visit pubs
                                                                                                                                                                                  • Figure 25: Visiting pubs/bars to eat or drink in, by time of day, March 2017 vs April 2018
                                                                                                                                                                                • Under-55s are key pub diners
                                                                                                                                                                                    • Figure 26: Frequency of visiting pubs/bars/nightclubs to eat and drink in, April 2018
                                                                                                                                                                                  • Men and younger consumers are core drinkers in pubs/bars
                                                                                                                                                                                    • Figure 27: Visiting pubs/bars/nightclubs to drink in at different times of day, by gender and age, April 2018
                                                                                                                                                                                • Pub Visiting and Spending Habits

                                                                                                                                                                                  • Friends are key for driving pub visits
                                                                                                                                                                                    • Figure 28: People with whom pub drinkers visit pubs, April 2018
                                                                                                                                                                                  • Visits with partners and families are also important …
                                                                                                                                                                                    • … while 16% go to pubs alone
                                                                                                                                                                                      • Visiting pubs with others generates the highest share of £25+ spending
                                                                                                                                                                                        • Figure 29: Pub spending habits, April 2018
                                                                                                                                                                                      • Visiting with a partner can also generate significant spending
                                                                                                                                                                                        • Solo pub visits generate lower spending
                                                                                                                                                                                        • Pub Entertainment

                                                                                                                                                                                          • Live music is the most popular source of entertainment for pub visitors
                                                                                                                                                                                            • Figure 30: Pub activities and sources of entertainment, April 2018
                                                                                                                                                                                          • Live sport appeals to many but can be divisive
                                                                                                                                                                                            • ‘Classic’ pub entertainment activities remain popular
                                                                                                                                                                                              • Karaoke nights hold limited appeal
                                                                                                                                                                                                • Newer types of entertainment can also resonate with many pub-goers
                                                                                                                                                                                                  • 16% of pub-goers are attracted by four or more types of entertainment
                                                                                                                                                                                                    • Figure 31: Repertoire of pub activities and sources of entertainment, April 2018
                                                                                                                                                                                                • Pub Enticements

                                                                                                                                                                                                  • Clean toilets and high quality food important for the majority
                                                                                                                                                                                                    • Figure 32: Importance of pub features and facilities, April 2018
                                                                                                                                                                                                  • Good ranges of drinks also important
                                                                                                                                                                                                    • Figure 33: Importance of a good range of alcoholic and soft drinks, by gender and age, April 2018
                                                                                                                                                                                                  • Parking spaces are also important for the majority
                                                                                                                                                                                                    • Many pub-goers also like to visit with family and pets
                                                                                                                                                                                                      • Traditional features are important to 48% of pub-goers
                                                                                                                                                                                                      • Pub Deterrents

                                                                                                                                                                                                        • High prices and long waits are the main pub deterrents
                                                                                                                                                                                                          • Figure 34: Factors which deter pub visits, April 2018
                                                                                                                                                                                                        • Facilities such as seating are also important for many pub-goers
                                                                                                                                                                                                          • Loud venues can deter many pub-goers
                                                                                                                                                                                                            • Live sport remains divisive
                                                                                                                                                                                                            • Appendix – Data Sources, Abbreviations and Supporting Information

                                                                                                                                                                                                                • Abbreviations
                                                                                                                                                                                                                  • Consumer research methodology
                                                                                                                                                                                                                  • Appendix – Market Size and Forecast

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    • Best- and worst-case forecast data
                                                                                                                                                                                                                      • Figure 35: Total pub industry revenues, best- and worst-case forecast, 2017-22
                                                                                                                                                                                                                      • Figure 36: Alcoholic drink revenues in pubs, best- and worst-case forecast, 2017-22
                                                                                                                                                                                                                      • Figure 37: Catering revenues in pubs, best- and worst-case forecast, 2017-22
                                                                                                                                                                                                                      • Figure 38: Soft drink revenues in pubs, best- and worst-case forecast, 2017-22
                                                                                                                                                                                                                      • Figure 39: Other item* revenues in pubs, best- and worst-case forecast, 2017-22
                                                                                                                                                                                                                      • Figure 40: Forecast for pub alcoholic drink revenues, 2012-22
                                                                                                                                                                                                                      • Figure 41: Forecast for pub catering revenues, 2012-22
                                                                                                                                                                                                                      • Figure 42: Forecast for pub soft drink revenues, 2012-22
                                                                                                                                                                                                                      • Figure 43: Forecast for other item revenues, 2012-22
                                                                                                                                                                                                                    • Forecast methodology