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Inside a smoky club with lasers
Photograph: Shutterstock / Party People Studio

One in five UK nightclubs have shut since the Covid-19 pandemic began

The country has lost nearly 300 nightlife venues since March 2020

Written by
Ellie Muir
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Everyone has a story about a beloved sticky floor somewhere in the UK. Whether it’s Infernos in London or Sneaky Pete’s in Edinburgh, this country has an impressive array of clubs catering to all genres and moods. But our nightlife scenes have never been in a more precarious state. With noise complaints, rents being hiked up and luxury flats being built where nightclubs once stood, the industry was at risk even before the pandemic.

But now things are even worse. According to a new report, the UK has lost 20 percent of its nightclubs since the country first went into lockdown in March 2020. Today, venue owners face higher energy bills and rent, and it’s also proving tricky to find and pay staff who will work until the early hours. Inevitably, punters are being put off by rising entry fees, making them more likely to attend house parties or unlicensed raves instead.

The UK’s nightclubs have been in decline for the last 15 years, according to figures from the Night Time Industries Association (NTIA). In March 2020, the number of nightclubs in England, Wales and Scotland was 1,418, but now the figure is 1,130 – meaning a fifth have been lost since the pandemic.

The industry body warned that the ‘culmination of debt, growing energy bills, workforce challenges, supply chain, increased insurance premiums, landlord pressures and product cost increases have created a perfect storm’.

But some parts of the country have fared worse than others, such as the Midlands, where almost 30 percent of nightclubs have closed since the first lockdown more than two years ago.

To help them recover, hospitality businesses were exempt from paying business rates up until June this year, and will still receive a third off the normal charge for the rest of the financial year.

But that’s not enough, according to the NTIA, which is demanding that the government support the nightlife industry further. ‘The government needs to recognise the economic, cultural and community value of clubs and the wider night-time economy,’ said NTIA CEO Michael Kill. ‘We must protect these businesses, using every means possible, and recognise their importance before it’s too late.’

ICYMI: here’s how you can get £400 off your energy bills this winter.

Plus: is the whole of the UK about to ban hosepipes?

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