Friday, 5 June 2020

Beer lines

Over the past eleven weeks of the lockdown, queuing, especially to get into supermarkets, has become an unwelcome fact of life for most of us. While nothing has yet been definitely announced, it is looking as though, even if pubs are allowed to reopen next month, it will be under some kind of social distancing rules that will limit capacity. This creates the possibility of having to queue to get into pubs and other hospitality venues. So I created a couple of polls on Twitter to see what people thought of the idea of queueing for pubs and restaurants.

As you can see, the general reaction was not enthusiastic. The results were fairly similar between pubs and restaurants, although in theory you might expect people to be more willing to do it for restaurants as eating is a necessity, while having a drink isn’t. Indeed there were more people prepared to do it for as long as it takes for pubs than for restaurants.

I can quite understand this reaction, as I detest being forced to queue for anything, and have been known to walk out of pubs if I have to wait too long to be served. There is also a conceptual difference from queuing for a supermarket or drive-thru fast food outlet, as in those situations the is a steady throughput of customers, so you can expect to make steady progress, whereas with a pub the customers already inside the building might be settled in for a long session, especially given that pub-crawling will become impossible.

However, even before the lockdown, people were prepared to queue for a long time to gain access to venues like beer festivals or nightclubs where there was a one-out, one situation. And, in recent weeks, we have become inured to queuing in a variety of situations where we never expected to. So the enthusiasm for queuing to get into Wetherspoon’s might well turn out to be greater than the polls suggested. And, when the “non-essential” shops reopen a week on Monday, I would expect to see some very long queues outside the likes of Next and Primark.

I’m not going to comment on the realities of the socially distanced pub until we have a clearer view of what to expect, and when we can expect it.

19 comments:

  1. I can't actually think of an instance where I have had to queue recently where I wasn't accustomed to queuing in the past.

    Queuing at supermarket checkout has always been the norm. Post office were notorious for the length of their queues and slowness of service. At the off-licence there were usually two or three people in front. Indeed, queuing is the retail trade's way of "optimising their human resources"

    What has changed is the nature of the queuing. Out in the weather, blazing sun or torrential rain. Difficult to talk to anyone else and none of the opportunities to examine the stock.

    Even in pubs you had to queue but it was so informal, and disorganised, that few recognised it as a queue. At least with a formal queue you will be able to walk away without been sneered at as an impatient bastard for not being prepared to wait at mine hosts convenience.

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    1. Well, I've certainly had to queue up, sometimes for quite prolonged periods, to get into aupermarkets and chemists, and I've seen other people queueing to get into butcher's shops, post offices, banks and takeaways, none of which was routine before. And social media suggests this experience is pretty general.

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    2. Yes. Queuing to get in but not queuing inside. Whereas "normal" was going straight in and queuing inside. The overall time seems similar.

      Back in the last days of the cold war I had a Soviet (from Georgia) visitor working with me and he loved to joke: "The difference between communism and capitalism? In Georgia we queue to go into the shops. In Manchester you queue to get out"

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    3. "Queuing to get in but not queuing inside. Whereas "normal" was going straight in and queuing inside. The overall time seems similar."

      Certainly not my experience. In supermarkets, not only do you have to queue to get in, you also have to queue for a lot longer to get out because half the checkouts are closed to achieve social distancing. And I never had to queue to get in the chemist's - I would just walk straight in and collect my prescription, whereas now I've had to queue outside for up to half an hour.

      "The difference between communism and capitalism? In Georgia we queue to go into the shops. In Manchester you queue to get out"

      Also in Manchester the shops would actually contain stuff you wanted to buy.

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    4. That is why it was ajoke

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    5. There's a fine line between humour and stirring.

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  2. The worst pub experience is when there's groups hovering at the door eyeing up your table. Would never queue, just as I'd never book a table to drink or eat.

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  3. There's a world of difference between queueing to be served inside a pub and queueing to get in. I wouldn't mind a queue in the pub as it's only a formalised version of "waiting to be served" but I wouldn't queue up outside.

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  4. There'll be no a queues at 08:55 :)

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  5. Last time I queued to be served alcohol in a bar was in the mid-80's behind the iron curtain. Then I immigrated to Glorious England, and now I only queue to the supermarket. Pubs, no, there I draw the line.

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  6. The more enterprising and accommodating pubs will find way around this. Waiters / waitresses serving people whilst they're in the queue, simple! The queue then becomes part of the pub. (Easier achieved in pubs with a bit of outdoor area of course).

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    1. And the people in the queue could bring folding stools and tables with them and site them on the pavement to drink their beer.

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    2. Not really an option for small pubs with limited staff. And, as explained in the post, what may work in a fast food queue where throughput is predictable may not be suitable for a pub or restaurant where it's much harder to tell when queuing customers will actually gain access.

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    3. Reduce social-distancing (hate that phrase) guidelines to one metre, as in France and, as recommended by WHO. More people allowed inside, and less of a queue to get in - simples!

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    4. Reducing the social distancing rule would also increase the capacity of supermarkets and largely eliminate queuing to get in.

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  7. I guess it depends whether it's worth queuing for.

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  8. Professor Pie-Tin6 June 2020 at 13:26

    Have never and would never queue for a pub or restaurant.Life is too short.
    Pubs are re-opening on June 29th in Ireland provided they provide food.
    Why the 29th which is a Monday and not the 27th which is a Saturady so people can enjoy the weekend is beyond me other than being the plain stupidity that both the UK and Irish governments appear to be showing on easing of lockdown.
    On Monday the quarantine boundary is being extended to counties - so you can travel anywhere in your county.As though C-19 knows the difference between an invisible line on the map just like anyone else.
    Anway, this made me laugh which is rare these days because after 12 weeks in lockdown and a business that's been decimated I'm as cranky as hell.
    https://twitter.com/Dicknorris/status/1269211076639502337/photo/1

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  9. Back in the day the founder of Newcastle's modern nightlife scene, Joe Robinson, refurbished the old Gardeners Arms in the old Cordwainers Hall, and called it Cordwainers, the first 'one-word-name' 'style' bar in the city. It was so popular that those seeking to enter the flashy new bar had to queue. Not because it was so busy, but because Joe hit on a brilliant marketing wheeze, so he told the bouncers to always make sure there was a queue whenever possible, creating much more interest and publicity than just letting the punters in. Before long the city was awash with similar bars, especially in the notorious Bigg Market, all with respectable queues.

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  10. We (NZ) have had cafes, restaurants and pubs open for the last three weeks with social distancing (I hate the term too) rules.
    What this has meant is that you enter with your group, are seated and then served.
    The rules are that you can't go to the bar and get your own drinks and you can't mingle with other tables.
    In restaurants and cafes this experience is almost indistinguishable from normal because getting your own drink or mingling isn't really something that normally happens in those places.
    In pubs this ends up working ok too because compliance creep seems to kick in pretty rapidly, "drifting" occurs and even though you can't get served at the bar a walk up to it and a word to the staff soon has one delivered.
    However, I live in a small rural town (about 40k) and if the authorities were to enforce any of their silly rules a lot of us would be in the shit.
    But to the question - would I queue to get into such places (where queuing was previously unknown), the answer is No

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