"Sad Things Across The Pond"
This month column was written by Bob's friend
Hello to Bob and all his readers in the USA. I met Bob several years
ago when we were both in The Red Lion Pub on Crown Passage in
London. He was there on vacation, I was there to enjoy an after
work pint. We've kept in touch since and I've become an avid reader
of his column and all of BeerNexus. But now I'm moved to do more
than just read, I want to sound off on the sorry state of British pubs.
British drinkers are about to consume more beer from supermarkets
than from pubs for the first time, as millions stay away from their
local. Back in the 1980s more than 90pc of all beer drunk in Britain
was bought from the "on trade" – pubs and clubs, with less than
10pc brought from the "off trade" of supermarkets and off-licences.
According to the British Beer & Pub Association this ratio had fallen
to 50.9pc from pubs and 49.1pc from supermarkets at the end of
last year. "It will cross over in the near future," said a spokesman,
possibly as soon as this Christmas.
This would be a watershed moment for Britain's beer industry, a
culmination of long-standing change in consumers' drinking habits
as well as confirmation that the recession has caused people to stay
at home more.
The figure came as a report from the GMB union highlighted how the
high price of beer has caused the destruction of thousands of
neighbourhood pubs, in turn damaging many working class
communities. It said that local pubs, many of which were had
survived the Blitz and the great depression of the 1930s, were now
being destroyed by the recession. Last year, 26 a week closed their
doors, leaving just 52,500 pubs in Britain, nearly half of the level at
its peak before the World War II.
The Beer & Pub Association blamed competition from the
supermarkets, which often sell beer as a "loss leader" to drive
customers into their stores, and above-inflation increases to beer
duty. Making things even worse is that the tax on beer has gone up
18% since the budget of 2009!
A report from Zolfo Cooper, the financial advisory firm, suggested
last month that the number of trips people were making to the pub
had fallen by 19pc in the last year. It said drinkers now visit pubs an
average of 4.3 times a month – against 5.3 times a year ago, as
they tried to cut back on expenditure in the face of rising bills.
I don't have the all the answers but maybe a crackdown on
supermarkets advertising cheap alcohol, coupled with lower tax for
weaker beer could even now turn back the clock and draw people to
more civilised drinking at the pub.
Thanks to Bob for giving me a chance to lament about what I see
happening to a part of British history and culture. Hopefully things
will change before it truly gets too late.
|BeerNexus proudly presents
"the ombudsman of beer"
Bob and Friends Speak of Beer......
My thanks to Bruce for this month's
column. See you next time to
"speak about beer".
|Want to be a "friend of Bob" and write a guest
column? Just e-mail your article to Bob HERE.