John Harris

Journalist & Author

Britain’s pubs: we’ll soon see the value of them, but will it be too late? | John Harris

After the pandemic we’ll seek these places of shared experience. But by then many will have gone to the wall

Long before the pandemic, the sight of a disused British pub had become so commonplace as to seem almost banal. In 2018, it was estimated that a quarter of UK pubs had shut over the previous two decades. And last year, the number of closures was put at 994, just under 20 a week.

The roots of this story lay in a range of factors: property development, the often debt-stacked finances of the pub companies who own many premises, and the lifestyle shifts that meant some of us would now rather drink at home and do our socialising via our phones. But the upshot was miserably obvious. Pubs are not to everyone’s taste, and some are lifeless hellholes – but at their best, they offer a kind of everyday fellowship that the communities that lose them tend to miss.

Related: Only 7% of British people are heading to the pub. Here’s why I’m one of them | Zoe Williams

John Harris is a Guardian columnist

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