Good news from the pub!
Every time I walk into my local pub, there’s always some good news. The good news is that it’s still open and that I’m there to have a few beers and a nice sit-down. I may even have a small bag of pork scratchings if the mood fits.
But what’s this ‘actual’ good news about?
It seems that after years & years of pubs shutting down quicker than we can say ‘last orders Gentlemen please’, this trend may be in reverse.
Roughly 700 pubs shut down for good each year, but this year (2018-19) there seems to have been a net gain (that means increase!) of 320 pubs in the year to March – this is the first increase since 2009.
A broader appeal
The marketing agency Stampede, which obtained the figures, said pubs were trying to broaden their appeal. But I say ‘how broad does the appeal of a pub need to be?’ On the surface, like many people, I’m a simple customer. I want to know if you sell a nice beer? if the answer is ‘yes’, then, OK, I might pop in and stay awhile.
Maybe under the surface, I am a little bit fussier than that, but none of the following things I’m about to list are real deal-breakers. I like nice beer. I don’t like a rowdy pub crowd. I like a pub snack or two. I don’t like to be able to smell the toilets. I like a range of beers so I can choose one depending on my mood. I don’t like a bar plastered a huge range of gaudy coloured odd shot/shooters type drinks. I like to be able to sit down. I don’t like a pub with a blaring TV in every corner. I like a pub where I feel like I fit in.
Habits are changing
They say that pubs are closing down as ‘consumers rein in their spending and young people drink less’. I say “that’s bullshit!”. When I was young, we didn’t have more money, we weren’t yet persuaded to spend it on things that may be seen as unnecessary. The bar has moved, and luxuries of the past are now seen as essentials of today. We didn’t need to spend £40 a month on 370 extra TV channels that we won’t watch from SKY. We didn’t need to spend another £6 per month to binge-watch stuff from Netflix . We didn’t need to spend £70 a month on a new phone contract just because we wanted one without a broken screen for 2 weeks. We definitely didn’t need to spend £1000 on a bloody parker with a goose logo. And we didn’t get totally wasted at home, alone, on supermarket beer. But we did spend a fair few quid down the pub with our friends. A few of us did waste money on fags (not me though). We spend the same and drink the same, now as we always did, we just spend it in different ways.
Pubs are closing down because people are lazy. They think that we can do most of what the pub offers while we sit indoors at home. We can socialise on our phones (that sounds like fun!) and we can get drunk at home. But what these lazy people fail to see is that things that seem the same on the surface are so markedly different underneath. Social media is not talking. Social media is even a funny form of social. Drinking at home is not going to the pub.
I know people say that the pub is expensive, but you are not paying for the beer. You are paying for the rent, heating, electricity, staff etc. So it’s not the same. A can of supermarket beer is not going to cost the same as a pint from the pub.
I mean, Pizza Express essentially sells cheese on toast for £15. I’ve never heard anyone complain about that. I see the same people who tell me that the pub is expensive, buying a £90 ticket to go and see a live concert, then buy a £30 tee-shirt and not bat an eyelid at buying a beer for £6 when they are there. I suppose it must just be priorities… …Oh, no, I have worked it out, they must be thinking that there’s no point in doing something unless I can boast about it on Instagram. Underneath every social media post, we can remove all of the text and delete the image and replace it with the words ‘look at me’. Try it. As soon as you look at a post and say the words ‘look at me’ in the voice of the poster, you see the world in a new light.
A special occasion
A case in point, if it’s a special occasion, we don’t decide to stay in for the night, look at social media on our phone and get a can of beer from the fridge! NO, we go out. Because going out is better than staying in. The proof is simple, people with money & time go out more than those who don’t.
There are lots of people can’t see the benefit of socialising and drinking in the pub when it’s easier to do the other thing. My advice, cancel SKY & Netflix. Because a mobile phone is essential, just see if you are getting the right deal (I use billmonitor to check, It’s free and unbiased – I’m not paid to say this). Sell the goose coat on eBay, I can also see more than the cost of the thing as a reason not to wear it. Get a new coat from your local charity shop, because now you don’t have a coat. Then with nothing to binge-watch and some extra money, there’s no excuse… go down the pub, drink beer, meet friends, talk and laugh. There’s no need to tell anyone who wasn’t there.
Read More about the new upsurge in pub numbers here: UK pub sector expands for the first time in 10 years
Photo credit: Yutacar