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Restaurant closures in fifth successive quarter of decline.

The number of restaurants in the UK has dropped by 2.8 percent in the 12 months to March 2019, research by market research firm CGA showed.

The figure marks the fifth consecutive quarter of decline in restaurant numbers after a decade of rapid growth. Most closures affected independent outlets, though the number of group-owned restaurants also recorded a 1.1 percent drop.

The pace of closures was markedly higher in the south of England (2.8 percent) than in the north (0.4 percent), suggesting a clear-out of unsustainable outlets was taking place in the saturated southern market. The report noted that pub and bar closures had decelerated, with premium and all-day bars performing particularly well.

The announcement of the drop comes in the wake of a number of highly publicised closures of restaurants in recent months, including the collapse of the 25-outlet-strong Jamie Oliver Restaurant Group in May and the bankruptcy of cake chain Patisserie Valerie in January.

The dining sector has been grappling with a challenging trading environment in recent months, against a backdrop of rising costs, overcapacity, and Brexit-induced political uncertainty. The difficulties are compounded by broader challenges facing the high street, which has seen a decline in footfall amid rapidly changing consumer habits.

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