The sickly state of the traditional pub has garnered much press in recent years and is witnessed across towns and villages all over the nation. A recently-published report by the London Wine Fair rang the death knell for local pubs concluding that, “Last century’s world of stand-up beer drinking in poorly lit and scruffy pubs is being pushed further to the margins, and may disappear entirely from urban centres over the next 5-10 years.”
But things that disappear are replaced and the traditional pub is being taken over by gastropubs and to some degree cocktail bars. Drinking rates are down, particularly amongst younger generations, and when people do drink they are moving away from shoddily produced mass-market brands more premium - including craft gins and spirits from artisanal distillers.
However, the question remains, does this shift matter? What does the slow and seemingly inevitable death of local pubs mean for the nation’s culture? What do you think? Let us know!
Here are some facts to help you decide:
1. The latest stats from the Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA) shows that 29 pubs in the UK are closing every week, a rate that has more or less remained constant since last year when 31 pubs per week were closing.
2. With over 10,000 pubs having closed in the past ten years, CAMRA has resorted to encouraging people to push for protected status for pubs with its “List your local” campaign. The objective of the campaign is to protect 3,000 pubs, a number that currently stands at 800 and which even CAMRA maintains is ambitious.
3. The public’s habits are changing as people move upmarket to more quality food and drink. The value of premium spirits grew 14.1% last year whilst premium wine sales are up 14.5% in restaurants and 10.7% overall with one supplier to gastropubs reporting a 52% increase in premium wine sales.
4. The concentration of pure drinking establishments versus food-led establishments is dropping with new food-led businesses up 4.9% whilst new drinks-led businesses are down 3.8%.
5. A recent survey found that 52% of people prefer to host a party at home rather than meet their mates in a bar or pub with only 23% professing to enjoy socialising at their local pub and, 16% saying they only visit their local pub once per month and 5% saying they only visit once per year.
6. Off-trade beer sales surpassed those of the on-trade for the first time in 2014 with on-trade beer sales declining every year since the turn of the century except in 2003 when sales neither rose nor fell.