Saturday 7 March 2009

Use it or lose it?

It’s often said of pubs (and of other businesses such as post offices and bus services) that you have to “use them or lose them”. Obviously in a sense this is a statement of the obvious, that if businesses fail to attract sufficient custom, they will go to the wall. However, there’s often an implication that people should make an attempt to visit pubs they otherwise wouldn’t in an attempt to keep them going. Now, I do visit a fair number of pubs and make an effort to spread my custom around and keep up with what is happening in different establishments. The average adult in Britain drinks less than two pints of beer in a pub each week, and there have been few weeks of my adult life when I have not comfortably exceeded that.

But, quite frankly, I have better things to do than go to pubs I wouldn’t otherwise visit in an almost certainly vain attempt to stop them from closing. And in any case, the number of beer enthusiasts isn’t sufficient to keep any individual pub going – they must appeal to a wider public who are only going to be interested in the pub offering the drink, food, service and ambiance that suits them and couldn’t care less about making some kind of statement. It is up to pubs to attract customers, not customers to save pubs.

If you have to say “use it or lose it”, the odds are you’ve already lost it.


  1. A bit like the British car industry, really. How many times is someone going to buy an inferior product to support a general principle?

  2. I will go to any pub that allows me to smoke in the bar...otherwise I won't go near them

  3. It's a tricky one, isn't it?

    One one hand you want to go out to socialise, and on the other, it goes against your principles because pubs said, in effect, that they didn't need you anymore. The anti-smoker jihadi's were going to replace us, and then some. Pub owners and operators believed all the crap they were told.

    I have been writing about pub closures for three years now. I knew the outcome when the Scottish ban was enacted almost 3 years ago this month. Smokers, it has been shown again and again, drink. In huge numbers. Reports suggest that 4-6 million of us are staying away. When pubs failed to fight the smoker ban, they failed their biggest customer base. Rejection like that is hard to forgive. I will only visit pubs now after concerted begging by whoever wants me to go with them. I will never volunteer to go. Not until this ban is amended.

    There is a lot more carnage to come, but it can be averted by allowing more choice for customers.

    Quite why the government cannot see this is beyond belief.

  4. Visited the Pack Horse and Thatched House in Stockport on a very quiet Thursday night. Both pubs are welcoming, characterful pubs with quality beer, but the latter, with it's excellent live music, was the one making the effort and attracting significant Thursday custom. As you've said before, something other than a good pint is now needed to thrive (quizzes seem to do the trick in most parts).

    1. Ironically, the Pack Horse has now been revived in the form of the Cocked Hat, but the Thatched House has long since gone to the wall.


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