Tuesday, 21 January 2020

Drying out

To tie in with Dry January, the Morning Advertiser reports that one in four pub visits no longer involve consuming an alcoholic drink. My first thought is to wonder how many of these are connected with eating. My guess would be that the proportion on non-dining occasions is much smaller.

It’s also of limited usefulness taken in isolation. How does it compare with previous years? Does it represent a marked change, or is it little different? It could, of course, be the case that as the amount of drinking in pubs decreases, the proportion of dining occasions rises, and with it the percentage of non-drinking visits, even without much change in individual behaviour when in the pub. It could simply be a reflection of the growing role of food in pubs.

It’s certainly true, as I have observed before, that adults in groups of diners in pubs are now much more likely to be having a non-alcoholic drink than they were twenty or thirty years. But it doesn’t follow that hordes of people have suddenly started jugging back non-alcoholic beers on non-dining pub visits.

And, if they are, there must come a point where they start to wonder what they’re doing there at all. If one person decides to hang on the coat-tails of a group of drinkers and enjoy an evening in the pub while avoiding alcohol, that’s understandable. But, once the non-drinkers become a majority, they might one day ask “Paula, you’re now the only one of us who’s actually drinking alcohol. Wouldn’t it be better if we all did something else?”


  1. I'm just back from the Wrestlers in Cambridge, Thai lunch with parents. 3 of us had a J20. Still a "pub visit". In Wetherspoons in Cambridge yesterday morning, must have been 100 in, 80 drinking coffee, 20 at best drinking alcohol.

    Take Wetherspoons and pub-restaurants out of the picture and you see a different picture.

    Very rare to see non-drinkers in a drinking pub, even in Cambridge.

    1. The Stafford Mudgie22 January 2020 at 18:17

      "In Wetherspoons in Cambridge yesterday morning, must have been 100 in, 80 drinking coffee, 20 at best drinking alcohol".
      But that's "morning" so weren't the 80 waiting for someone else to have the first pint through the lines ?

    2. Ah, The Wrestlers, I had the pleasure of working in Cambridge for a few months last year, I enjoyed a couple of nights in this place, close to the hotel I was staying at. I agree Cambridge is a drinkers place, plenty of wonderful back street pubs, didn't see anyone not having something non alcoholic if they were by themselves.

    3. A similar sight can be seen in most 'Spoons in the morning. Making a big deal out of their breakfast and coffee was a clever move by 'Spoons. Coffee costs very little to make and they are getting revenue from a building that normally would be vacant at that time of the morning.

  2. Yes, this trend, if it is a trend, is mainly driven by the growing proportion of pub visits that involve eating.

    The increasing role of Wetherspoons as competitors to coffee shops is something that goes largely unremarked by "beer writers".

  3. Lies, damned lies, and statistics.

  4. If you loved pubs you'd support them, even when booze is eventually banned.

  5. Surely this won't happen!!! Still enough youngsters who like a tot to keep enough boozers going.....


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