What is killing the traditional British pub?

July 22, 2009

British pubs are closing at a rate of more than 50 a week, according to industry figures. The number of watering holes shutting up shop increased by a third in the first six months of 2009 to around 52 every week.

The British Beer and Pubs Association (BBPA) said the closure rate means a total of 2,377 pubs have closed over the last 12 months with the loss of 24,000 jobs. The BBPA blames above-average increases in alcohol duty, the cost of regulation and the recession for the worrying trend.

The smoking ban, poor weather last summer and cheap alcohol offers in supermarkets have also been blamed for driving drinkers away from the pubs.

Do you still have a traditional British pub in your area? Do you still use it? What do you think is to blame for the pub industry’s slow demise?


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Demographics, the average age of the baby boomers is 45, peak spending by adults, particularly luxuries and entertainment, is reached at 48, from then on your spending decreases, albeit slowly at first,until by age 60 your spending is reduced on average some 30%, again particularly on entertainment.

Posted by Fred Bloggs | Report as abusive

As a pub owner, it is the huge hikes in business rates and the non-existent review process for when they set you on the wrong (and always higher) rate.

Also, if you fall behind in the payments they threaten to take the tables and chairs (not things of value in themselves) simply to close you down.

This government will not be happy until everyone who wants a drink is herded into one small area of a town centre as they see this as easier to Police.

So much for freedom of choice!

Posted by Billy | Report as abusive

Pub closures have nothing to do with the recession, the cheap beer in supermarkets or the weather. As these things have never effected the pub trade in 150 years.

The cause of the closures are caused 100% by the smoking ban and nothing else. When the smoking ban came in I said to my aquaintences, just watch all the pubs close now…looks like I was right. I also said that within 5 years there will be no more pubs in the UK because of it.

With the rate of closures….this may be a reality.

Well…all the do gooders wanted working class boozers for drinkin and smokin to become like health spas…lol

Blame it on the do gooders.

Posted by vince | Report as abusive

The closures in rural areas are in huge part because of drink driving legislation. In town centres, anti smoking, drink driving for commuters who drove to the station, very inhospitable environments and finally duties and taxes have all combined to drive the drinker away. Culturally, it is the habit of the pub pint which has been lost: the pubs that remain are unattractive to the broad mix of customers they would previously have brought in, and there are now generations at the front and back of the drinking “ageband” who do not have social groups which depend on regular conversation in the pub.

Posted by dave | Report as abusive

With regard to Vinces’comments, I would like to see a study done comparing the savings the health dept has achieved through banning smoking in pubs and the increase in state social wellfare spending now needed for the additional 24,000 unemployed. There may be some truth in the recession being partly responsable for the closures. Here in south Africa it is the restaurant industry that has been hit hard. That may be because of the recession, but could also be similar smoking bans to pubs in the UK. It is more than likely the high food prices we have here caused by industries price fixing. Stop the planet I want to get off.

Posted by Geoff | Report as abusive

Beer at £20 / gallon might have something to do with it!!

Posted by Mark H | Report as abusive

Members of my family were forced to close due to brewery owners doubling the charge for the lease in 2 years. The brewers went into owning the property and leasing it out instead of running it themselves to make more money. This is the inevitable result of profiteering by the breweries.

Posted by len | Report as abusive

The exorbitant cost of providing satellite tv which has spiralled in recent years also means it is not cost effective to run a pub. And as the pubs close the satellite tv companies raise the charges for those remaining making it worse again and even less cost effective. The majority of new publicans do not understand the basic costs of running a pub and the minimum sales they require just to break even and if they did they would not go into it in the first place.

Posted by len | Report as abusive

So many landlords are lazy. They don’t seem to be house proud enough to keep their establishments in the sort of shape that would entice people to come back. They don’t seem to realise that rotting carpets and smelly toilets and slow or surly staff have a gradual effect on customers’ loyalty. Atmosphere is key and it’s not something you can only achieve by going all plastic and chrome and charging £4 a pint. Success is an attitude.

Posted by D | Report as abusive

The smoking ban stopped me (and all my friends) going out. I only go to a pub now if its a nice day/evening.

I refuse to be treated like a leper. The industry was warned that this would happen if an outright ban was introduced. Shame they didn’t listen.

Posted by Ant | Report as abusive

I think it is more to do with the cost of a pint,when you can buy the same for 1/4 of the price in a supermarket and stay at home with friends and not have to worry about how much you drink, so reduce the price of a pint by half and allow 2 pints as the legal limit to encourage customers back into the pubs. Smokers,you sad ……..if you want to smoke go somewhere else,vile habit.

Posted by paul | Report as abusive

The smoking Ban was the best thing ever and should have been brought in years ago. I and most of my friends who had decided to stop going out to Pubs altogether due to the filthy stink that made ones clothes smell after a night in the local, have now gone back to our locals and quite enjoy a pint or two. Sadly Pubs have had little choice but to go cosmopolitan and thus the traditional Pub atmosphere has largely disappeared. I fear that things will never be quite the same again.

Posted by Peter Schwarz | Report as abusive

Pub closures have been caused by the smoking ban. The smoking ban also caused the recession in exactly the same way as prohibition caused the the Great Depression in the 1930s. When will our politicians ever learn.

Posted by richard | Report as abusive

I think that all of these factors are contributing to the loss of custom for the pubs, as all these different factors affect different people. I think the major factors are the supermarkets offering cheap alcohol, as well as the unfortunate recession and people not having as much money to spend. Due to both of these factors I believe this is why the pubs industry is struggling to keep customers. However, with the World Cup fast approaching I believe this will help the pub industry to recover and also we will begin to see pubs for sale being bought again due to the returning customers.

Posted by BusinessDude | Report as abusive

I disagree that the smoking ban is having the most impact. Anyone who doesn’t go out because they won’t be able to smoke indoors is cutting off their nose to spite their face. If you must smoke, go outside. And if the weather is bad, you might just find that you can go without after all.

Cheap alcohol in the supermarket though, that is definitely having an impact, as well as higher costs of brewing. Drinking in pubs is very expensive and a lot of it is because beer suppliers are upping their costs. That’s inevitably going to have an impact on the price of a drink.

Posted by chrismasters | Report as abusive