The Nightlife Industry, Three Years On from COVID-19

The Nightlife Industry, Three Years On from COVID-19

This month, we update our take on our article, the Nightlife Industry and its Future, three years on from COVID-19.

Written three years ago, one month after the lifting of COVID-19 restrictions in England, this previous article discusses the impact that COVID-19 had on the nightlife industry. Many of the trends observed back then have been exacerbated by the national cost of living crisis beginning at the end of 2021. It is only now, in 2024, that we are seeing the long-term effects of this crisis in the nightlife industry.

Nightclub Closures post-COVID

A report by the Night Time Industries Association has revealed that there has been a loss of 31% of nightclubs between June 2020 and June 2023. This is with an average of 10 venue closures a month between December 2020 and December 2023. This fate has been seen in Bristol with the 2024 closures of Gravity in Clifton, and Dojo on Park Row. The latter which had been open 25 years. In 2022, The Basement, which had been running for 12 years, was forced to close due to development plans. And The Old Crown Courts closed at the end of 2021 after a 15 year run.

As of this year, Stonegate Pub Company have announced to be in £2.5bn worth of debt. With their annual reports revealing decreasing profits in 2023. Stonegate own 4,500 pubs and bars across the UK including chains such as Popworld and the Slug and Lettuce. This includes 53 pubs and bars in Bristol. The fact that Stonegate are struggling to pay off debt, or refinance, raises a larger concern across the industry, as costs continue to stay high and people’s disposable income is under pressure.

Next Steps for Nightlife Industry

The loss of nightlife venues has had a negative impact on the economy and jobs, but it also represents a wider cultural crisis. How do we get people out on the town again? The positive feedback loop that the cost of living crisis has generated means that the nightlife industry will be grappling with this loss of business for longer before anything can change. Nightlife venues need to raise their prices to keep up with their increased operating costs. Expenses such as rent, labour, maintenance, and utilities for example. But by charging more, the average patron, who has less disposable income, cannot frequent the venue as regularly. This means that customers may become a lot more selective about where they want to spend their money. Thus creating a more competitive market for nightlife venue owners.

Sadiq Khan faced backlash for famously tweeting, “London is leading the world in its 24-hour policy with other global cities looking to us for inspiration” in March 2024. The declining night-time economy seen in London is reflected throughout the country except for in two cities: Liverpool and Manchester. The only two British cities that have had a positive increase in net openings in the last 20 years, at 22% and 10% respectively.

It’s not all bad news either, some venues get to have a second chance. Despite announcing its closure in May, nightclub Dojo has reopened under new ownership at the end of June.

‘Alcohol kills the performance’

Perhaps the time has come to revitalise the nightlife industry? Taking in mind the current and steady trend of reduced alcohol consumption amongst young adults, it’s possible that offering this key demographic more sober night time social spaces, that are just as lucrative as night clubs, may save the nightlife industry. There will always a market for social spaces outside of home and work, as well as a desire for a successful and stable nightlife industry. But for many people, especially after COVID-19, these places might not need to revolve around alcohol.

At JS Reakes, we tailor our services to your requirements. Our expertise comes with over 30 years of experience in commercial property. We are based in Bristol and cover Wales and the Southwest. Email us at office@jsreakes.co.uk to get in touch!


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