Which Region Has the Most Pubs and Bars in the UK?

Pubs and bars have been a tradition in the UK for centuries. They can historically be traced back to Roman taverns and Anglo-Saxon alehouses, but it’s not until the early 19th century that we started to see the pubs we know and love today. But pubs and bars have been struggling over the last two decades and their numbers have been steadily declining. From 2000 to 2018 the numbers of pubs dropped by 22 per cent. Part of the reason behind this fall was the smoking ban that was introduced in 2007 coupled with the 2008 recession. But a more recent problem for pubs and bars is the rise in 16 to 24-year olds choosing not to drink.

Many people can stand all night in a pub or bar with their plastic glasses chatting, dancing, or watching sports. Pubs and bars are still popular and a focus point for most people’s nights out, and weekends. They are still some of the most important places for community engagement and for people coming together. So, we have conducted research to see which area of the UK is the most densely populated for pubs and bars, and which region is searching the most for pubs and bars.

Who has the most?

Obviously because they have the biggest population, London comes out on top for the number of pubs and bars they have. With a population of 8,907,918, they have 4,366 pubs and bars, which is one pub for every 2,040 residents. But we are going to look at the places outside of London with large numbers compared to their population.

After London, Leeds came out on top for the number of pubs and bars they have at 594 for a population of 503,388 – this is a pub for every 847 people. It’s safe to say the people of Leeds must be happy with that.

Gloucester has the lowest amount of pubs and bars open at only 24, and they don’t have the lowest population. The lowest population on our study is Blackburn with only has 119,707 residents with 122 pubs, working out as a pub for every 981 residents.

The UK’s second biggest city Birmingham with a population of 1,153,717 only has 475 pubs and bars. So, you’ll be fighting for a seat in Birmingham. Another surprise is Newcastle, which known for its lively nights out, only comes in at 13th with only 253 pubs and bars open, getting beaten by places such as Stoke-on-Trent and Brighton who have smaller populations than Newcastle.

Who’s planning to go out?

We also researched the average monthly searches for different phrases relating to pubs and bars and this is what we found.

Manchester comes out on top for wanting to party most, as their average searches for nightclubs are second-highest after London, at 1,600 every month.

Surprisingly, Belfast is not the top place for searches for Irish bars, they are tied with Edinburgh at 260 searches.

Edinburgh is only second to London in highest average monthly searches for pubs and bars. This could be due to the number of tourists that visit Edinburgh, as going to a pub is the third most popular activity for tourists.

We’ve found out that Oxford loves their wine, as they are third for average monthly searches for wine bars just after London and Edinburgh. Enjoy your vino, Oxford!

You’d expect that the places down south with slightly warmer weather would be searching for pub gardens. But unexpectantly and even with the often grim weather up north, Edinburgh and Glasgow are second and third for monthly searches for beer gardens.

Changes in pubs and bars

The way pubs and bars are operating have also changed. There is now an increased demand for food as serving staff now outnumber bar staff.

There is some hope for the beverages industry, as in some areas the number of pubs is starting to rise again. In the North East of England, between 2018 and 2019 the numbers of pubs and bars went up five per cent.

Who owns the pubs has changed. In the early 1990s it was mostly breweries, but now the number of independents has grown in ownership. This could be as some people are trying to take on the job of running unused pubs or taking up the challenge of saving their own local which might be in need of new owners.

Even centuries ago, pubs were important to people as 17th century diarist Samuel Pepys described the pub as “the heart of England.” We can see this after the initial lockdown period as people are eager to get back to pubs and bars after having to create their own drinks at home – let’s hope we will all be able to meet in a pub or bar soon.




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