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UK losing five nightclubs per week as industry demands “immediate intervention”

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A new report has been shared on the UK’s nightlife scene, revealing that the country is losing an average of five clubs per week.

The statistics have been shared by the Night Time Industries Association (NTIA), and reveal the alarming rates that nightclubs and local venues are being closed in 2024. There has also been a call for the government to do more to protect the sector.

In the newly-released figures by CGA Neilson, it is shown that the first three months of 2024 alone saw a devastating loss of 67 nightclubs – the equivalent of around 5 closures per week.

Of these 67 closed venues, 19 were managed or tenanted establishments, while the remaining 48 were not. This means that around 80 per cent of the spaces lost in the first quarter of 2024 were independent businesses.

The figures are not exclusive to 2024 though, and instead feed into a long-running crisis that the UK nightlife industry has been facing for years now.

In the past four years, there has been a 40 per cent decline in independent nightclubs according to the NTIA, and the last year alone saw the country bid farewell to 81 nightclubs. 59 of these were independently owned.

Michael Kill, CEO of the NTIA, has shared his dismay over the new statistics, and has continuously highlighted the cultural and social significance of the UK nightlife scene. He has also called upon the government to make more of an effort to intervene in the issue, as well as shed light on the issues that are leading to the rapid decline.

A large energetic crowd at a UK nightclub. CREDIT: Richard Newstead/Getty Images

These, he explains, are due to a combination of factors, including insufficient support during the COVID-19 pandemic, growing debt burdens, and soaring operating costs.

“The decimation of our nightclub industry is a national tragedy,” he said in a new statement. “Without immediate intervention and meaningful support from policymakers, we risk irreparable damage to our cultural heritage and the fabric of our communities, the Government must consider a. VAT cut through fiscal intervention prior to the general election, businesses cannot wait!”

New figures from the NTIA also align with those shared earlier this year, when the association made a push for government action after finding that over 30 per cent of nightclubs in the UK were forced to close in 2023.

Between March 2020 and December 2023, 396 nightclubs were forced to close permanently across the UK – a blow accounting for 31 per cent of the total businesses within the country.

Once again, those worst impacted were the independent businesses, as tenanted businesses declined from 225 to 193 between December 2020 and December 2023 and managed businesses went down from 37 to 29 during the same period.

Other findings emerged back in January last year when NTIA shared that one-third of UK nightclubs closed by the end of 2022, then again in August, when they revealed that over 100 independent nightclubs across the UK had closed down over the past year.

A large energetic crowd at a UK nightclub.
A large energetic crowd at a UK nightclub. CREDIT: Richard Newstead/Getty Images

More recently, at the start of the year the results were shared for 2023 – revealing a “disaster” that hit grassroots music venues across the 12 months.

Among the key findings into their “most challenging year”, it has been reported that last year saw 125 UK venues abandon live music and that over half of them had shut entirely – including the legendary Moles in Bath. Some of the more pressing constraints were reported as soaring energy prices, landlords increasing rate amounts, supply costs, business rates, licensing issues, noise complaints and the continuing shockwaves of COVID-19.

In a bid to bring more attention to the rapid decline of the grassroots music sector, various artists and figures from the music industry spoke to NME earlier this month, as a government committee of UK MPs joined the call for a levy on arena and stadium gigs – as well as a cut in VAT – to support struggling grassroots music venues and artists.

“We are grateful to the many dedicated local venues who gave up their time to take part in our inquiry,” said Dame Caroline Dinenage MP, Chair of the Culture, Media and Sport Committee. “They delivered the message loud and clear that grassroots music venues are in crisis. The ongoing wave of closures is not just a disaster for music, performers and supporters in local communities up and down the country, but also puts at risk the entire live music ecosystem.

“If the grassroots, where musicians, technicians, tour managers and promoters hone their craft, are allowed to wither and die, the UK’s position as a music powerhouse faces a bleak future.”

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