The number of pubs, restaurants, and bars that sell alcohol continues to grow, despite a slight blip over the past year, according to new Government figures.
The Liquor Licensing survey, which is conducted every three years, counted 113,000 licensed establishments throughout England and Wales in the year to 30 June 2004. While this was 1.5% (or 1,900 venues) down on the previous 12 months, numbers were 3% higher than in 2001.
The number of full on-licences has grown from 69% to 72% in the past 12 years - and they now account for 71% of all new applications, compared with 54% in the early 1990s.
Rob Westwood-Payne from licensing solicitors Heatons believed many operators were scrambling to upgrade to full on-licences to avoid existing restrictions being carried over to the new licences, for which applications begin next February.
Since 1992, pub licences have soared by 10% to 81,500, while restaurant licences have grown by 8% to 21,300. However, the 3,750 licensed clubs hasn't changed since 2001, although there are 500 fewer clubs than in the mid-1990s.
Pubs accounted for a record 186 of the 273 on-licences revoked during the year under review.