Twenty years ago, I would have expected that pub, while probably not heaving, to be nicely ticking over on a Friday lunchtime. A few working men propping up the bar, or maybe playing a quick game of pool, a couple of groups from local businesses or maybe even schoolteachers, a handful of retired people having some lunch. Traditionally, workers would often go to the pub on Fridays even if they didn’t on other days of the week. Yet now it is completely deserted, and if it can’t even attract any customers at that time on a Friday you have to wonder whether there’s any point in opening at all on weekday lunchtimes. And does that suggest the pub isn’t really viable full stop?
There was nothing obviously amiss with this pub; indeed, to all outward appearances, it was clean, pleasant and congenial. But its emptiness stood as a sad reflection of how far the pub trade has declined.
This isn’t an inner-city area, and actually has seen zero pub closures in the past thirty years. But I would be surprised if any of the five nearby pubs were busy or anything like it, either. Indeed one was not open at all.