As we all know, there has been a big change over the last five years, not only for pubs and clubs but in the economy as a whole. Peoples spending habits have changed as they are unsure how the economy is going. Is there job safe? And with all the talk of a “double-dip recession” (is that a new declining ride at Alton Towers?). Public houses and Social Clubs have been getting it from all angles for numerous years now as any experienced publican will tell you, cheap loss leader priced booze in supermarkets – if pubs do this they are accused of encouraging binge drinking and slated in the press or even, stripped of their licence! The smoking ban of 2007, this effected our local and community pubs very badly as people want a choice of how to spend their social time and show this by picking up alcohol from a supermarket and drinking it from home. And not to mention what this did to the income of fruit machines as playing the one arm bandit and having a cigarette went hand in hand. Research showed that in bingo halls, 80% of fruit machine players smoked. Whilst we are all not sure of this percentage in pubs, but it is high and proved so as fruit machine cash box takes were badly affected.
There are plenty more pressures to list that have affected the pub industry and then affected the whole chain that deals and relies on a bouyant pub industry, like the beaurocratic red tape, pub company machine tie so that the landlord only gets 30% of any income and many more.
Enough of the negative, let’s talk positive and what the future might hold. We know the days of our football stars hanging up their boots and buying their local boozer are long gone, so what does it hold?
Well, the British pub is unique and is proved to us whenever we go abroad and ask the locals where to find the nearest Irish Bar because that’s where the fun is or when abroad people say “I love your English pubs”. They are places of social contact and hearts of the community. Where Tom can actually talk to a neighbour, friend or stranger instead of tweeting or poking them on Facebook. You get to know faces, the Landlord will even call you by your name, infact pubs have become the modern day churches bringing together people who don’t know their neighbours and get people talking and finding out what is going on in their local community or just a place to go and relax to enjoy your favourite tipple.
This is also priceless and cannot be copied by supermarkets but it does need nurturing and where we see Landlords who do know their customers names, who do take an interest in the local community and this could be by holding beer festivals or local charity nights for pulling people together, these Landlords have been holding their own or even, dare I say it, making a profit.
Now, let’s add to this what a great year we have ahead with the Queens Jubilee, Euro 2012 football championship, the Olympics being held here in Great Britain, to name the big events and I’m sure any licensee making a song and dance about these great events will see an up-lift in trade. Of course, a bit of sun will help, but what a great way to be heading towards the latter part of the year. Who knows, a good Christmas and perhaps a minimum pricing policy to stop the Supermarkets from taking over the world, we might be seeing the start of a turnaround for the pub industry. I hope this is true and anyone looking to profit from the pub industry will see a turnaround in fortunes or, if you are looking to get into our hospitality industry then 2012 might just be the year to do it. Good luck!