The great British pub, once a favourite pastime for the men and women of our country, is now a dying breed clinging on for survival.
A British Beer & Pub Association report claims that up to 52 pubs are closing every week every week, nearly seven a day. Since 2008, 4,500 pubs have closed in Britain. In 2009 alone, there were over 24,000 job losses in the beer industry alone, with the figure rising each year since.
It is worrying news for the industry, which has seen fierce competition from cheap deals at supermarkets, and rising alcohol levies introduced by the government.
However, the pubs are fighting back. A new campaign by CAMRA – Campaign for Real Ale – has seen 5,500 pubs across the UK unite to defy the gloom and entice new customers through a new national event.
aims to attract the nation to go to pubs and bars, by putting on special events, activities and celebrations, helping to reinstate the former golden years of the pub in Britain.
The public house in Britain has been around for many generations. The tavern can be linked back to the early Roman times, whereas the 14th century saw the formation of the ‘pub’ as we now know it today. According to pubs.com, “for centuries it has been a place where friends meet, colleagues 'talk shop' and business people negotiate deals; a place where people gather to celebrate, play games, or to seek quiet relaxation.”
But times have changed. Dogged by dwindling punter numbers and a government keen to crack down on binge drinking, the industry has suffered more in the last decade then it has at any other point in its long, colourful history. Although, according to pubs.org.uk, “15 million people still drink in their local each week.”
However, recent statistics released by CAMRA show that 9 in 10 young pub going adults (89%) visit their local pub to meet friends and socialise, whilst 1 in 4 currently married couples (25%) first met their partner down the pub.
Keen to tempt new customers to pubs across the country, CAMRA have launched their new campaign at a time of increased interest in the British public house. With an unusually hot spring and events such as the Olympics and Diamond Jubilee, the public need somewhere to go to enjoy the weather and celebrate with their communities.
In a sense, this is what the new ‘Community Pubs Month’ is all about. Over April, 5,500 pubs across the country will be taking part in the new initiative, hosting various events, from Ann Summers Parties to Pig Racing.
Mike Benner, CAMRA Chief Executive said: “CAMRA’s new campaign is all about reaffirming the vital importance of local pubs, and the essential role they play in many people’s lives.”
“Pubs are the beating hearts of countless communities across the land”, he added. “Without their existence, society would be a lot worse off.”
Campaigners backing the event hope that it will reignite the community view of the pub being the heart of a village or community. Already, pubs have drawn up several ideas across April.
The Leopard in Burton-On-Trent plans to hold an ‘Ann Summers’ party for punters to try on the latest lingerie, whereas The Market in Alton plan to host a charity auction and curry night this month.
The plans are being rolled out quickly in order to attract new customers before the planned increase in alcohol duty in the summer, which is likely to increase the price of the average pint by 15 pence. However, the recent announcement for a minimum alcohol price to be set at 40p a unit may provide some good news for the pub industry, where cheap supermarket prices have dented profits.
The plans by CAMRA are ambitious, and may turn regular punters off from going to their local drinking hole. But they offer a chance for the public house to rekindle its former glory days. Despite recent statistics from the Office of National Statistics ‘National Wellbeing programme’ reported that in 2010, there were 6 million fewer trips across Britain after the high of the ‘staycation’ shown in 2009.
Whether the pub industry will survive another decade or so remains to be seen. It all depends on the mood of the public. With families feeling the pinch across Britain, pubs may be viewed as a cheaper alternative for a good day out. Hopefully the plans will provide some good news for the economy.
CAMRA’s ‘Community Pubs Month’ runs throughout April nationwide. Visit www.camra.org.uk for more details.
Pictures courtesy of Wikipedia
This piece is a version taken from my 1st year portfolio, which I produced on my journalism course at the University of Kent