The end of the British pub?
Given that alcohol consumption in the UK has doubled since the 1960s it seems strange that there should be a decline in pubs. However 38 pubs per week are closing showing that the industry is in decline. The traditional British pub is losing out to new trendy bars and clubs and people are drinking much more at home. Some pubs have changed with the times and modernised to cater for the trend towards bars, many will then question whether is it really a pub. Perhaps we simply need to expand our idea of what a pub is to include such changes, if the demand of the British consumer is changing then perhaps it makes sense that pubs should be changing as well.
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Value of pub estates is dropping.
'Research from pub property specialists Fleurets shows a 40% fall in values since the market peaked in 2007. Most activity, it says, has been in freeholds at the bottom of the market, as pub owners sell out because they can no longer turn a profit.
Simon Hall, a Fleurets director, said pubs were suffering from the wider problems in the property market. "Banks are not providing funding [for buyers]. Deals are either cash deals or secured on other property," he said.'
Our economic system relies on the boom and bust theory, and we can see how this is currently affecting the pub market. Property drops in value if people are no longer willing to buy.Upon the value dropping, people begin the buy and prices rise once more. Therefore, the drop in pub value might actually increase the pub trade. New investors with fewer savings could enter the pub market place and we will have a reinvigorated pub market where new sellers have entered. This can result in new ideas which might be able to save the declining profits of the alcohol sale sector.
Young people would rather buy alcohol from stores and drink at home.
Buying cheaper alcohol in bulk from a store is significantly cheaper than buying drinks at a pub. There is a greater emphasis in today's culture on the home as a place to spend time in (http://www.historyextra.com/feature/decline-pub-what-can-we-learn-history) and more entertainment in the home. Alcohol bought can be consumed at any time, allowing greater freedom for students who wish to drink throughout the night. Continental-style 24-hour bars are also increasingly popular due to the new licensing laws.
Young people are not the only possible target audience. Older people will not wish to change their habits, especially ones who are already regulars at their local pub.
Most students cannot afford to drink at 24-hour bars. After the latest increase in the tuition fee cap, more of them won't be able to.
The entertainments available at home are largely available at pubs - they have TV, books and some of them now have video games. Entertainment such as live bands cannot be replicated at home.
Most pubs will not want young people to use the venue for heavy drinking as they often come in large, unmanageable groups, drink far too much, become loud and disruptive.
Drinking habits overall have changed.
People would rather go to continental-style 24-hour bars, have a wider variety of drinks and have a meal with their drinks.
A pub can offer the same variety - a good traditional bar meal such a steak and ale pie with chips, a house wine and a small variety of other drinks as well as a good real ale list makes a pub more appealing and welcoming.
People have the same need for a common place to socialise.
While less people need pubs to drink alcohol, a pub is still the primary place to socialise, to have events, to meet people in your local community, to have seasonal celebrations and watch Football matches. The pub is still a central part of many family's lives, especially in working class communities, and there isn't a replacement. Student pubs are widely used as cheap venues for bands and meeting places for University societies.
Working class communities of this sort are in decline.
Growth of real ale.
Real ale is a growing industry despite the Recession because it is a better quality product and is proportionally cheaper. It is more economical to drink, as it is stronger and too expensive to waste. The number of microbreweries is increasing. Real ale is increasingly popular with students. Pubs that offer a good selection of real ale at a reasonable price will be able to profit.
'The Times reported on 27th September 2010 that sales of cask ale have increased by 5%, taking the total sales of the drink in the UK to £1.4 billion. They estimate that an extra 100,000 customers have started drinking ale as opposed to other alcoholic drinks. The Cask Report (2010) says that an extra 3,000 pubs have started selling ale, and that sales have actually been steadily increasing for the last three years.
Interest as part of national heritage.
Pubs are a tradition unique to Britain. Heritage pubs especially are of great historical interest. They bring in revenue from tourism as well as being supported by historians and heritage organisations.
Advertising pubs more as tourist attractions and places of academic interest may ruin the atmosphere. Nobody wants a quiet drink in a pub crowded with tourists. It is also likely to increase the prices.
What do you think?