Wednesday, 8 August 2012

Priced out

A report released by CAMRA to coincide with the Great British Beer Festival reveals that “The percentage of young pub goers (18-24 year olds) visiting the pub regularly – once a week or more – has plummeted from 38% to 16% since 2005.”

However, it’s hard to see how raising the cost of off-trade alcohol through minimum pricing is going to do anything to make pubgoing more affordable. It is also the case that substantial sections of the pub trade, especially the pub company sector, have pushed through above-inflation price rises year-on-year without any thought as to whether their customers can actually afford it, thus leading to a slow but steady erosion of trade. It can’t be coincidence that in many town centres Wetherspoons, for all their lack of atmosphere, are the only pub that is busy, because they offer conspicuously good value for money. A pint of real ale in my local Spoons is no more expensive than the undiscounted price of a premium bottled ale in Tesco.

And there couldn’t have been anything else that has happened to pubs since 2005 that has deterred many customers from going, could there? I’m scratching my head here...


  1. Is the smoking ban an issue for 18-24 yeaqr olds, Mudgie? They'd be the first generation of pub users to not have any experience of indoor smoking in any public place.

  2. On the other hand, if they or their friends smoke, the thought of going to a social venue where it's not allowed might not have such appeal. If they've never been in the habit of pubgoing they might fail to see the point.

  3. The pub I frequent, Cask Corner in Doncaster has a CAMRA and NUS card discout for ales and ciders, as well as a covered balcony-cum-beer garden for smokers/nice weather. Sometimes even bands play up there. Me and my friends love it, (we are all 18-19). However we have noticed the price rises, in one pub it was £2 a pint, raised to £2.30. Cheap still but go to the next pub and it'll be £3 a pint. It does add up for students who want to enjoy some good beer, rather than get off their tits on £1 jagerbombs at a club.

  4. Wot Skippy said. I know it isn't CAMRA's ground, but you'd want to ask club owners or operators of 'vertical drinking establishments' if they're having the same experience with that age group.

  5. Professor Pie-Tin9 August 2012 at 09:44

    One of the main problems as far as I can see is the suspicion and sometimes outright hostility of pub landlords when faced with a young person requesting a drink.
    It's as if they expect some lager lout to wreck the place after a quick sniff of the barmaid's apron.
    And one other observation - next time you hear of a landlord complaining about a lack of young people in his pub simply ask him if he offers free wi-fi.
    It never ceases to amaze me how pubs think nothing of organising quiz nights and darts/doms/pool etc but can't be arsed to offer something to a generation brought up relying on the internet for their fun.
    In fact how many pubs even offer something as simple as a website.
    If they insist on living in a time-warp they're only going to attract fossils.

  6. The thought did occur to me that "Challenge 21" probably has something to do with this.

  7. I know a bloke in his early twenties who runs a business delivering alcohol to peoples' houses late at night, charging premium prices way above what you'd pay in a supermarket. He makes decent money. When he fancies a drink himself, he comes to the pub. Make of this what you will.

  8. As Sid suggests, I don’t think that the smoking ban irritates young people as much as it does older ones, because they don’t have that sense of having had something taken away from them. But that doesn’t detract from the fact that for any smoker, young or old, social drinking in an environment where you can enjoy a few cigarettes with your drink without having to leave the room is inevitably going to be preferable to social drinking in one where you can’t. And as no pubs anywhere now fall into the former category, it’s perhaps inevitable that young smokers, just like their older counterparts, will tend to gravitate towards places where they are going to have the best and most enjoyable time. Which, for smokers, rarely now includes pubs.

    But perhaps the most disappointing thing, from ban supporters’ points of view, about this story is the fact that clearly young non-smokers aren’t visiting pubs so much these days either. If even these young people – who can barely, if at all, remember smoking in pubs – prefer the company of smokers, with their attendant smoke, to the joys of smoke-free hostelries then perhaps this really gives the lie to the much-trumpeted idea that all non-smokers love the ban and are pleased that smokers have been banished to the outside. Maybe the truth of the matter is that the majority of non-smokers aren’t that bothered either way and, like smokers, would rather have a good time in the company of their smoking friends, wherever that might be, than a rotten or mediocre one without them.

  9. "It can’t be coincidence that in many town centres Wetherspoons, for all their lack of atmosphere, are the only pub that is busy, because they offer conspicuously good value for money."

    It's about sex. If you want to pull, you have to go to a bar (like Yates, Wetherspoons). You'll put up with having to go outside for a smoke on the off-chance of getting a shag.

    On the other hand, meeting up with your mates, you can do at one of your homes.


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