Depressing, although scarcely surprising, news today from the British Beer & Pub Association that the rate of pub closures has now reached 52 a week, or 2,700 a year. And that’s a net figure, after taking account of all the new trendy box bars that have opened. The real figure of losses of proper pubs is more like 70 a week. The number of pubs in Britain – 70,000 not so many years ago – is now down below the 54,000 mark. This is no more than I have hinted at in previous posts such as here and here. It’s wishful thinking, though, to expect the current government to do anything about it, as they have made it abundantly clear that they couldn’t care less about pubs and seem to view them almost as a kind of health hazard.
This blog posting by the ever-eloquent Raedwald is a poignant reminder of what we are rapidly losing forever. A whole way of life is disappearing, and pubgoing is becoming a niche activity that is irrelevant to vast swathes of the community.
But some people still don’t seem to get it, and complacently go on about how it’s just the crappy keg pubs that are closing. Broadly speaking, it is, but they aren’t closing because they are crappy keg pubs, they are closing because the overall demand for pubs has dramatically declined. Obviously, in such a situation, it is the less appealing pubs that will go to the wall first, but in the past the market was healthy enough for these pubs to make a decent living. All too often, people who really should know better fail to draw a distinction between the factors dictating the overall size of the market, and the factors determining how trade is distributed within a shrinking market.