Consumers aren't stupid. They've always known that they can get their alcohol much more cheaply from the off-trade. They pay (or paid) a premium to go to the pub because pubs sell atmosphere, comfort, entertainment and relaxation. Above all, they sell an environment. That environment changed dramatically in July 2007. For some people, it was a change for the better, but every economic indicator suggests that for pubs' core customer base, it was a change for the worse. People will not pay a premium to stand out on the street. Whether that premium is £2 or 2p makes little difference when there is a comfy sofa and a roaring fire back at home.The anti-drink lobby must be chortling into their sarsaparilla at the sight of sections of the drinks trade at each others’ throats.
So, yes, it's not pretty when business colludes with government, but it's understandable when business feels it can maximise its profits. But when years of collusion have led to nothing but the decimation of your industry, isn't it time to grow a pair?