U.K. Pubs - Help Needed
by Bruce Nigels
Hello from across the pond! You have a lot of readers here in London
Bob. Thought I'd send you a few words on the scary decline in pub
numbers here. In 1980 there were 69,000. Now there are 48,000 –
fewer than the number of supermarkets in the UK. In 1979 UK pubs
sold 29.2 million pints of beer a day. In 2013 this had fallen to 10.9
million. To me that means we simply need better pubs. The mythical
“perfect pub” matters more now than it ever did. I have long believed
that pubs are good for social cohesion. I just read a study of 2,800
rural parishes across the country over a 10-year period that found
that those areas which had a pub enjoyed a greater sense of
community. Simply put, pubs do more for a town then just dispense
drinks and serve food.
A variety of causes have conspired to kill off pubs. As I see it they
include: supermarkets selling cheap alcohol; the increase in rents, rates
and costs imposed by pub companies and local councils; and the rise
in duty and VAT set by the Treasury. As for the smoking ban - to me
it's a good thing and despite complaints has not really hurt pubs much.
The biggest reason I see for the decline is a change in consumer
habits. Britain just does not drink as much as it did. Ten years ago the
average Briton drank the equivalent of about 418 pints of beer – both
at home and at a pub or restaurant. This has fallen to 343 pints, with
young people, in particular, drinking far less than their parents did.
And persuading an 18-year-old to buy a pint of Adnams, costing
£3.30 in the pub, rather than a can, costing £1.40 from Tesco, is a
battle landlords need to win.
Why the high cost? Today, more than one-third of the average pub
price for every pint is swallowed by taxes.
I'm a regular at my local, which is doing quite well. The staff knows all
the regulars, and we know in turn know we can walk in and get a
friendly hello, good service and always have one of our mates there to
talk to. The bartender remembers our drink and if they see a regular's
car pull into the lot will have their drink ready and waiting for them on
the bar So you see it's not only about the beer. On that issue, the
number ofsmall brewers has grown substantially over the last decade.
And the quality of beer at most pubs has shot up.
Many good pubs conspicuously court families with children – not
something that every beer drinker agrees with here. My view is that if
that the pub can get the kids to convince the adults to come in, then
it’s a job well done. I know of a pub that even has an animal-petting
area at the end of one of its large gardens, for the children.
Lastly I prefer pubs that do not have a TV, radio, or jukebox, as I
found in every single pub I visited in the USA when I last was there.
You have my sympathies, Bob. When I go to the pub I enjoy
conversation even more so than the beer which is something many
local pubs here are beginning to understand.
Well, all this has made me thirsty. I'm off for a pint!
Hello Bruce. Great to hear from you. I really appreciate your point of
view on such a vital issue as I too believe the pub means much more to
a community than just a "watering hole". Thanks and write again!
I'd like to invite everyone to send me their own columns about anything
related to beer just as Dan did. I select the best and publish them here.
So join in and get writing!
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