Wednesday, 21 August 2013

Reasons to be fearful

Interesting results (and a massive turnout) for my poll on reasons deterring people from visiting pubs. I created this as a response to various discussions as to whether the decline of pubs was inevitable or could be reversed. The intention behind it was to ask what reasons led people to visit pubs less than they once did, not why they were put off from specific pubs.

Not surprisingly, “unable to smoke indoors” came top, with 47% of total votes, and 57% of those who were deterred to some extent. “High prices” was a strong second, and I’ll be devoting a post to that subject later in the week.

Third was “Poor beer quality” – surely it’s a sad day when so many people are put off going to pubs in general because they worry they’ll get a poor pint. Note that “Poor choice of drinks” was a separate option and scored much less.

Then, neck-and-neck, came two factors that I have extensively discussed over the past few years – “Dominated by diners” and “Dominated by TV sport”. While dining and sport have their place in pubs, if they are allowed to dominate to the exclusion of all else then the large number of customers who aren’t interested in one or both will be put off.

“Disapproval of employer” didn’t seem to be a major factor despite the widely-reported decline in lunchtime drinking, and “Disapproval of family/friends” only attracted a couple of votes.

31 people, or 17% of the total, said they visited pubs as much as they ever did.


  1. Remember, even though "Unable to smoke indoors" was the highest reason stated as per popular vote, do make sure to ignore the smoking ban in the equation and don't say anything about it at all in your analysis. You might get MSM attention as long as you go along with the game, the way they and government like to play it. I.e., promote the lie, not the truth, it makes certain smug anti-smoking CAMRA members happy too, even if it comes a the price of everyone else or a majority's self-esteem to be destroyed and broken.

  2. I go to the pub more often than I used to thanks to the smoking ban.

  3. Yes, you are one of the three people in the entire country that does.

  4. All your poll is telling is that your blog is read by cheapskates that smoke, not why pubs are less frequented and going tits up.

  5. I did a poll on my site about attendance after the smoking ban.

    It fits with yours.

  6. How about "I no longer drink several pints a night and have a job to go to on weekdays"?

  7. It's interesting but, I would suggest only representative of the readers of this blog who, I would hazard a guess, may not be representative of the pub-going public as a whole. Perhaps angled to what Cookie calls the "I wish it was 1950" tendency?

    I also think ot was badly worded as your final question wa snot incompatible with the others although it was presented as though it was.

  8. @JohnClarke; I don't wish it was 1950, although I might like the price of a pint, I wouldn't be able to get one in the afternoon and in some places after 10.00 at night. I was one of the respondents who still goes to pubs as much as I did before the smoking ban. I loathe and detest the ban but I like pubs too much to let it stop me from going.

  9. Yes, my comments were perhaps a little badly worded. I too said I still go to the pub as much as I always did but at the same time I ticked a couple of boxes indicating what stops me from going to certain pubs rather than pubs in general (beer quality being one in fact).

  10. I agree with Clarkey that there are missing options on this dodgy poll. I particularly wanted to see an option "Can't go, got barred for fighting" or "Got an ASBO that prevents me from consuming alcohol in a public place"

  11. That's not quite what I had in mind.

  12. Yes, in an ideal world it would have been better to have a two-part poll where people were first asked whether they went to pubs less than they once did, and then, if they answered "Yes", asked them what the reasons were that deterred them. However, the application doesn't permit that. I would say it's entirely legitimate to say you still go to pubs as much as you ever did, but also that there are *some* factors you often find offputting.

    It's just a blog poll, not the Upper Silesia Plebiscite, and of course I recognise that the sample is representative of nothing more than the readers of the blog. So it's really just a talking point, not a definitive statement.

    On the other hand, a previous poll did establish that most people read this blog more for the discussion of beer and pub related subjects than the wider political aspects, and so poll results may be more representative of pubgoers' opinion than Cookie and John might think.

    And some people might wish it was 1913 again, when Britain had the greatest Empire in the world, the pubs were open all day and even mild was over 5% ABV ;-)

  13. Then The Chap is the publication for you Mudgie.

    Get tweeded up !

  14. Those were the days! Well perhaps not 1913 as we all know what followed shortly after but, say, 1893? Now there's a year - a night in ones's club followed by the night train and steamer to Paris and the joys of the belle epoque! Unless you were a lower class slum dweller which may have taken the edge off things a tad, I'll admit.

  15. In my experience, beer quality is now better, beer choice is better, pubs are nicer without smoking, the atmosphere is just as friendly, and the beer is actually more affordable now I have a job.

    The reasons I don't go as much as I did 5 years ago weren't included in your poll.

    1) I don't have time, as I have more stuff to do in the evenings.
    2) I moved house: now have less attractive pubs in walking distance.
    3) I have to get up in the morning: can't afford hangovers.
    4) I now live with non pool-darts-and-tv-sport-loving-missus rather than pool-darts-and-tv-sport-loving-housemate.
    5) I am no longer 20 years old and blessed a liver of iron.

  16. If you were committed to saving the pub, pyo, you'd get a new missus, or train the current one up.

  17. She quite likes pubs, we normally go a few times a week. Just not every single night without fail like I did in the old days.

    I think we're asking the wrong questions to some extent. Asking individual people why they personally don't go to the pub will never give us the answer. People change and their habits change.

    What would be interesting to know is how the demographic makeup of the pub has changed as the overall numbers have declined. Anyone got any guesses?

  18. @py0 - it's always been the case that people's pubgoing habits reduced as they acquired work and family responsibilities, but they then started going more as they got the children off their hands and maybe moved into retirement or less high-pressure roles.

    Clearly to some extent now the pubgoers who drop off the radar are not being replaced in anything like the same numbers by new entrants.

    However, the fall in trade of nearly 30% in the past six years must be down to more than just demographic churn - there must be existing pubgoers who are going less for reasons other than the usual change in personal circumstances.

  19. 30% down in 6 years -

    Is that 30% less pubs? Perhaps everyone is going to the same big well run pubs.

    Is that 30% less beer? perhaps they're drinking something else.

    Is that 30% less on-trade alcohol in general? In units of alcohol or volume of liquid? Perhaps they're still going to pubs but simply drinking less because of health or financial concerns.

  20. 30% less beer sold. There may be some switch to cider, but nothing remotely like that much.

    And if people are still going to pubs but drinking less, that's still a decline in trade.

  21. I might be wrong, but haven't cider, wine, mixed drinks and spirits all gone up?

    So perhaps its not the pubs, its the image, choice and quality of beer that is turning people off.

    I think people have finally realised that Fosters tastes like shit, and in a lot of pubs, there's not many other options.

  22. "And some people might wish it was 1913 again, when Britain had the greatest Empire in the world, the pubs were open all day and even mild was over 5% ABV" - now you're talking!

  23. I think many of your readers may possibly underestimate how many enjoy going into pubs now that they are smoke-free. I realise a lot that read this blog won’t want to acknowledge that and will no doubt criticise me for saying so. I enjoy going to the pub much more now that I don’t have to cut through the exhaust of a disgusting addiction. Reactionaries are a millstone around the neck of any society; change happens, get over it! If pubs are to survive they need to change. Being stuck in a rose-tinted age gone by time-warp isn’t an option. Too many pubs still offer poor customer service or a poor experience, or both. That is why they are closing.

  24. Many of the pubs trading in June 2007 are of course now customer-free.

    I don't deny there are some people who value being able to drink in a non-smoking environment, but there was nothing to stop them doing that before 2007. The fact that there were very few entirely non-smoking pubs, and that non-smoking areas purely for drinking tended to be very lightly used, suggests the actual demand was limited. And it certainly hasn't brought in any substantial influx of new customers.

    What really gets me about antismokers, though, is that they are so intolerant that, just because they don't like something, they're not prepared to allow it in any part of any pub anywhere, just on the offchance they might wander in and be offended.

    Why can't we have smoking and non-smoking pubs, and let the market decide? I think we all know the answer to that one.

  25. "The fact that there were very few entirely non-smoking pubs, and that non-smoking areas purely for drinking tended to be very lightly used, suggests the actual demand was limited"

    Unfortunately, that's not how the market works. Given the choice between a smokey pub down the road and a non-smoking pub 10 miles away that has 10 other different things wrong with it, its quite likely that people will either stay at home and occasionally begrudgingly put up with the smoke.

    The idea that "if there were demand, the market would already be supplying it" is simply not one that stands up to any kind of scrutiny. Its similar to "people must like Carlsberg otherwise they wouldn't be drinking it".

  26. Whereas the antismoker argument is "I like Carlsberg, so pubs shouldn't be allowed to sell any other beer."

  27. I don't really see that analogy.

    I don't mind people smoking as long as they don't get it on me.

    The huge ground swell of public support for the smoking ban suggests that the majority of people feel the same.

  28. @pyo: "huge ground swell of public support for the smoking ban"? Forgive me but this one passed me by, have you any evidence? Preferably from a reliable source and not a fake charity.

  29. There's a pub in Shrewsbury called The Three Fishes which was non-smoking for years before the ban. It was (and is) a cracking little pub and always busy. I chose not to go there because you couldn't smoke. Instead I went to The Loggerheads round the corner where you could. This was called choice (remember that?)

  30. ask Nev, he often quotes some stats about it. The number of people who would want to turn back the clock is dwindling to single figures. It only takes a business trip to Eastern Europe to remind people what a nightmare it was in the bad old days.

  31. At least until 2010, the annual Social Attitudes Survey - which was an official project and thus clearly above being accused of anti-ban bias - had never shown a majority in favour of a blanket smoking ban - see here.

    And I see you haven't come up with any actual references to back up your ludicrous assertions.

  32. I suppose you consider MORI a "fake charity"? How about a government public consultation? Their figures show high levels of support that have steadily increased since 2005.


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