Saturday, 4 September 2010


“Pre-loading” – that is, fuelling up on cheap off-trade alcohol before going on a night out – is often seen as a major factor behind drink-related disorder, and this is used as a justification for increasing the price of drink. Now, I’ve no doubt that a certain amount of pre-loading does take place, but overall it must only account for a tiny proportion of off-trade consumption, so to use that as a reason for an overall price hike seems like punishing the majority for the sins of the minority. And even if the price of a bottle of vodka was raised by 50%, it would still be much cheaper than drinks in the pub.

But I thought it would be interesting to ask readers of this blog whether they ever indulged in pre-loading themselves. The question was “Have you ever “pre-loaded” before going out for a drink?” and there were 72 responses, broken down as follows:

I currently do it often: 4 (6%)
I currently do it occasionally: 8 (11%)
I used to do it often: 5 (7%)
I used to do it occasionally: 9 (12%)
No, never: 46 (64%)

Perhaps a little surprising, given that I always picture most of the readers of this blog as middle-aged blokes, that as many as 17% of respondents claim to currently do it – maybe some of those who gave that answer would like to comment on the circumstances.


  1. do a survey asking gender and age of your visitors- it would be interestig- frpm a male aged 41-cheers.

  2. Most of the drinkers I know,tank
    up at home and thats where they stay. Another section of society tank up from mid morning to mid afternoon(at home) then descend on the few remaining locals where they stand outside,vomiting ,hurling abuse
    and generally causing mayhem.
    Some of these linger into the evening where they clash with
    Mr&Mrs Nice Guy who then decide
    to stay in more often.
    One added bonus about the backyard
    smoking areas ,its much easier to drink the "bring your own" fill ups, a lot cheaper too.

    Ex 7/7, now 1/14

  3. "do a survey asking gender and age of your visitors- it would be interesting"

    The initial results do rather bear out my hypothesis - 59% are men aged 35-54.

  4. I first heard of this practice from my students, when I was teaching a module on drugs (including alcohol and tobacco) - lots of them said they drank at home before going out, so as not to pay club prices. There were (to me) rather hair-raising stories of groups of girls buying and drinking a bottle of supermarket wine each before going out on the town.

    What struck me was that this was largely drinking at home before clubbing, i.e. as a substitute for the pub rather than preparation.

  5. Does no-one drink wine with their dinner? That's why I pre load.

  6. Ditto Ben's comment. I am 43 and would go to pubs ~300 nights a year pre smoking ban. Post smoking ban I go ~20 nights a year (mainly birthdays). I spend more time in restaurants now because if I am going to use a smokefree restaurant, it might as well be a decent one. Hence, I pre-load on wine in restaurants but infrequently go to pubs afterwards.

  7. Being a Northerner, I tend to have a cup of tea with my tea before going out in the evening :-)

    But I would say drinking wine in a restaurant before going to the pub doesn't qualify as pre-loading, as it forms part of the evening out - it's not done at home before you start. And the price of wine in restaurants makes beer in pubs look cheap!

  8. Fair point Curmudgeon! I realised after I posted that maybe my logic was a little awry!!

  9. My student sons and their flatmates all preload before a night out - "It's just too expensive otherwise"


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