Timely news from the National Church Trust which has been watching the demise of the local pub for the date that the number of pubs sinks below the number of churches.
There are around 39,000 pubs in the UK, according to the latest figures from the Office of National Statistics, with more than 11,000 pubs having closed in the UK in the last decade – a fall of almost a quarter (23%).
By comparison, there are around 40,300 church buildings in the UK that are open to the public and/or being used for worship.
The number of churches was calculated by the Christian research body, the Brierley Consultancy.
However, far more people visit a pub than visit a church.
Although alcohol consumption is declining in general, more than half the UK population will have a drink at least once a week, albeit not necessarily in a pub.
Pubs are holding up though in economic terms, with revenue not falling as the closure of a pub tends to see other local pubs increase their sales, as they absorb customers — and staff.
However, the pubs market is consolidating with smaller pubs closing and the larger chains doing better. In a way that is mirrored in the churches, with smaller rural churches ceasing to offer services, as large evangelical churches pop up all over the place in urban areas.
Another factor is that unlike pubs, which can often be repurposed into other uses, mainly as blocks of flats, it’s much harder and far more expensive to do the same with old churches — so the churches linger on as an empty relic of heritage while pub buildings continue to be used on a daily basis.