Japan Data

“Izakaya” Chains Close Down Pubs in Japan Amid Pandemic

Economy Society

Amid the various emergency measures introduced during the COVID-19 pandemic, bars and restaurants have had to repeatedly reduce their opening hours or even shut down temporarily, and customers have become accustomed to a life without drinking parties, leading to izakaya chains closing down many of their pubs.

Two years have passed since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, during which time people have become accustomed to not going out for a drink. There has been a string of closures of Japanese-style pubs (izakaya) among the 14 major listed izakaya chain operators. According to statistics compiled by Tokyo Shōkō Research, the number of izakaya among those listed companies was 7,200 as of December 2019, which decreased to 5,844 as of the end of December 2021.

At the outbreak of the pandemic there were not yet major social restrictions, so the number of izakaya barely decreased at all by the end of March 2020. However, following the first declaration of a state of emergency, 554 establishments were shut down during the six-month period up to the end of June of 2020, and thereafter the pace of closings accelerated. A gradual reduction in numbers continues to the present moment.

Since October 2021, when the state of emergency for the fifth wave was fully lifted, restrictions on the serving of alcoholic beverages have been gradually eased, bringing a revival in activities in shopping and commercial districts. However, izakaya operators have taken a cautious approach, so that as of end of December 2021, 11 out of 14 listed companies were operating fewer chain outlets than they had at the end of September of the same year. Moreover, the rapid spread of the Omicron variant, starting in January of this year, placed the izakaya businesses in a difficult situation once again. If companies continue to shut down their outlets, there will be deteriorating conditions for employment and business partners.

(Translated from Japanese. Banner photo © Pixta.)

izakaya COVID-19