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07-02-2018, 15:31
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The news that 88 million less pints were drunk in pubs and bars in 2017 can hardly come as a surprise. This equates to a 2.4% year on year fall and hammers home yet again the message that pubs are still in trouble and that there is still a significant switch to drinking beer at home, as overall, beer sales rose slightly. There isn't a bright looking horizon either, with a business rates bombshell likely to have a further effect on on trade prices in 2018.

The great divide in beer continues, not because of increased off sales at the craft small pack end of things - that's a different thing - but at the volume end. For those with jobs and "just about managing", choosing to drink cheap beer at home as pub prices increase on those already wage squeezed, is rapidly becoming a no brainer.

The beer market is changing considerably. The so called community pub is being threatened as never before as its core customers vote with their feet and drink their beer at home. Those of us who enjoy their beer in the pub had better watch out. It is an endangered species and while really good pubs that can attract those with plenty disposable income, will no doubt survive and while the craft bubble will continue to provide an alternative to the well heeled in mostly urban centres, the overall picture is somewhat depressing. For those not quite at the bottom of the pile, who used to enjoy a pint in their local but can no longer afford to do so, the pub may fade from not only their daily routine, but their weekly and even monthly one.

Fragmentation, high prices, high duty and high business rates as well as different social habits, don't paint a rosy picture. Changes have been both evolutionary and enforced by circumstances. The effect is broadly similar however.

And there is more to come.

Britain has the fourth dearest alcohol prices in Europe. So much for minimum pricing.

The day of the handy local pub is disappearing. You'll also have to travel further to the pub for that odd pint. Another disincentive.

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