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31 per cent of UK nightclubs closed since COVID, new statistics reveal

The Night Time Industries Association (NTIA) have called for immediate action from the government.

By Will Richards

A crowd in a nightclub enjoy a DJ set
(Picture: Pexels)

31 per cent of nightclubs in the UK have been forced to close since the pandemic, the release of new statistics has revealed.

READ MORE: Printworks and Brixton’s potential plight proves threat to UK nightlife extends beyond the grassroots

The facts were shared by the Night Time Industries Association (NTIA), who have called for immediate action from the government.

396 nightclubs closed in the UK between March 2020 and December 2023, at an average of two closures per week. 2023 saw 4 per cent of the entire UK network of nightclubs shuttered.

The NTIA said the stats showed a “profound and systematic marginalisation of the nightclub sector”.

“The closure of nightclubs transcends mere economic repercussions; it represents a cultural crisis endangering the vibrancy and diversity of our nightlife,” they said. “Nightclubs serve as vital hubs of social interaction, artistic expression, and community cohesion, making their preservation imperative.”

Demanding immediate action, they added: “In light of this urgent situation, the NTIA demands that the government takes immediate action to provide financial relief to struggling nightclubs. Central to this relief is the imperative for the government to reduce VAT to 12.5 per cent across the board, failing which further closures across the sector are inevitable.”

The exterior of Moles in Bath, which shut down in December 2023. (photo by Mike Kemp/In Pictures via Getty Images)

One venue to close last year was Bath institution Moles, shutting its doors after 45 years due to struggles related to the cost of living crisis.

“We are not the only grassroots music venue to close in the past year,” they said. “Over 120 other venues have closed as well, which is over 15% of the sector. Places that mean as much to others as Moles means to us.”

They added: “Meanwhile, the live sector at arena level and above is having a bumper year with record profits. While all these venues have closed, 7 new arenas are being built that will generate hundreds of millions a year. There needs to be a major shake-up of the live sector, with the big players supporting the grassroots where it all begins to secure that pipeline of talent. This is something that Music Venue Trust has been saying for years; maybe now the industry will listen.”

Writing for Rolling Stone UK in 2023, Joe Goggins argued that the closure of Printworks, as well as the enforced shuttering of Brixton Academy, proved that the threat to UK nightlife extends beyond small venues.

He wrote: “When neither heritage venues like Brixton nor cutting-edge newer ones like Printworks can be assured of their future, and those among the grassroots are set for their most torrid year in recent memory, the UK has never been at greater risk of cultural homogenisation.”