British pubs and bars have been an essential part of the country's social and cultural life for centuries. However, over the past twenty years, there has been a significant decline in the number of pubs and bars in the UK. There are several reasons for this decline, ranging from economic factors to social changes. In this article, we will explore the five main reasons for the decline in British pubs and bars, citing precise statistics to support each reason.
Changing Drinking Habits
One of the main reasons for the decline in British pubs and bars is changing drinking habits. According to a report by the Office for National Statistics (ONS), alcohol consumption in the UK has decreased by 16% since 2004. This decrease in alcohol consumption is attributed to a rise in health-consciousness, changing attitudes towards alcohol, and a shift towards non-alcoholic alternatives.
High Taxes and Costs
Another factor contributing to the decline of British pubs and bars is high taxes. The UK has some of the highest taxes on alcohol in Europe, with beer duty increasing by 60% over the past 17 years. According to the British Beer and Pub Association (BBPA), pubs pay 2.8% of all business rates, despite accounting for just 0.5% of the total UK economy. The high costs of energy and staff is also a significant issue facing many British businesses, including the beloved-pub. The rising price of real estate has also resulted in many pub-plots being sold off or repurposed to become homes, flats, nursing homes or knocked down altogether.
Competition from Supermarkets
Supermarkets selling alcohol at cheaper prices have also impacted the pub industry. According to a report by the Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA), beer sales in pubs fell by 7.3% between 2012 and 2017, while beer sales in supermarkets increased by 22%. The same report states that a third of pub closures are due to competition from supermarkets.
The economic recession that began in 2008 also contributed to the decline in British pubs and bars. The recession led to a decline in disposable income, which affected the pub industry as people cut back on discretionary spending. According to the BBPA, there were 2,500 pub closures between 2008 and 2013. The devastating impact of the pandemic and the subsequent 'lockdowns' did nothing to assist the trade, harming the it still further when the situation was already precarious for many outlets.
Finally, social changes have also played a role in the decline of British pubs and bars. The rise of online social networking and the availability of entertainment options at home have made going out to a pub or bar less appealing to younger generations. According to a report by the BBPA, 18 to 24-year-olds are visiting pubs less often, with 29% saying they go to the pub less than once a month.
In conclusion, the decline in British pubs and bars is a complex issue, with multiple factors contributing to the decline. Changing drinking habits, high taxes, competition from supermarkets, economic recession, and social changes have all played a role in the decline of the pub industry. While the situation is challenging, some pubs and bars are adapting by offering different services such as food or hosting events to attract customers. The growth of craft ale and 'gin culture' have bee positive for the trade in recent years, allowing enterprising and responsive pubs to develop a new following. Ultimately, the long term future of British pubs and bars will depend on their ability to evolve and meet the changing needs and preferences of customers.