Wednesday, 22 July 2009

Pub Closures

From The BBC:-

UK pubs closed at a rate of 52 per week in the first half of the year - a third more than the same period in 2008 - the British Beer & Pub Association said.

Over a thousand pubs lost. What's that? 5,000? 10,000 jobs lost? Is that really worth it to save the lives of the 26 bar workers who died from passive smoking in the same period? I'd say not.

Local pubs were the most vulnerable as communities were hit by the fallout of the economic downturn, it added.

Just to check this, I wandered over to the British Beer and Pub Association website. After all, the BBC has been muddying the waters over this issue. I found their press release here and there isn't a single mention of the smoking ban.

The research suggested businesses that provided food were far more resilient to the recession.

Let's spell this out for the hard of thinking at the BBFA: If pubs are going to be hit hardest in a recession, it's going to be on food sales, not drink sales. In a recession, the lipstick effect comes into play and people spend money on smaller rather than larger luxuries. The effect should be much harder on food than on booze.

Let's consider another possibility: Pubs with a lot of food business used to ban smoking in the dining area. So, the smoking ban would have had little impact on those pubs.

And branded pubs and cafe-style bars were opening at a rate of two a week, according to the report.

"Pubs are already diversifying, but unfortunately if you are a community pub, you can't transform yourself into a trendy town-centre bar," said an association spokesman.

Again, completely missing the point. The difference between trendy town-centre bars and local pubs is about purpose. Young people go to trendy town-centre bars to meet new people, mostly of the opposite sex. Local pubs are about meeting your mates.

So, despite the smoking ban, people will still go to trendy town-centre bars because they have to in order to score. But people don't have to do that with their mates. They can just meet at each others houses and smoke in the warm instead.

I'd actually be willing to do an analysis of the BBPA data just to prove this once and for all, because the pubs that have survived around here fall into 3 categories:-

1) Places people go to score.
2) Pubs with food
3) Pubs with an outdoor courtyard or garden where people can smoke.

Just send me a database of pub closures with their postcodes and I'll go through them all.

"The biggest impact is the recession. There are fewer people out and fewer people spending money in pubs and bars, regardless of where they are," he said.

There are pubs closing that have been in business for decades, centuries even. The number of pubs that closed in the recession of the early 90s was about nil.

In fact, pubs should close less slowly in a property slump because the option to convert them to private residences becomes less favourable.

OK, pub takings should be down in a recession, but a lot of businesses will get through that. This isn't what's happening. When the economy picks back up, we won't see booming pubs again as the remaining pubs soak up customers coming back.

The fact is that before the ban, there were straw polls done in some pubs and 80% of the people in them were against the ban. The middle classes who said they would go if they weren't so smoky were obviously bullshitting as there were always plenty of pubs with non-smoking areas and they never went in them.

Get a clue and start fighting the government over the ban before another 1,000 pubs are gone. Ally yourself with UKIP who are the only one of the political parties who is against the ban and start telling people who come to your pub to vote for them if they want to be able to smoke in a pub again.

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