LONDON (Reuters) - The number of pubs closing across Britain increased by a third in the first six months of 2009 to about 52 a week, industry figures showed.
The British Beer and Pubs Association (BBPA) said the weekly closure rate had increased from 39 in the last six months of 2008, meaning a total of 2,377 pubs have shut over the last 12 months with the loss of 24,000 jobs.
There are now just under 53,500 pubs in Britain, according to the BBPA, which blames above-average increases in alcohol duty and the costs of regulation, as well as economic conditions, for the industry's predicament.
"The recession is proving extremely tough for Britain's pubs," said BBPA chief executive David Long. "However, those economic pressures have been made much worse by a Government that has continued to pile on tax and regulatory burdens."
The last two budgets have seen a 20 percent increase in beer tax, adding 600 million pounds to the industry's tax bill, which now stands at 6.1 billion pounds, according to the BBPA.
Britain's pubs have faced torrid trading conditions over the last two years as a smoking ban, recession, above-inflation tax rises, miserable weather last summer and cheap booze offers in supermarkets kept drinkers at home.
Editing by David Cowell