The latest edition of our local paper, the Southport Visiter, has a cheery headline about local pubs: "Pub scene thriving as nine Southport locals make CAMRA’s Good Beer Guide." The article itself is okay as far as it goes, but it's the headline that drew my attention. Are our local pubs really thriving? Sadly, the answer is no, they're not. As I reported in July, according to the British Beer and Pub Association, pub sales were down by 4.5% in the three months to June as beer tax and VAT rises wiped out the positive impact of the warm weather and the royal wedding, and in the year to June, beer sales were down by 7.1% as the various tax rises added 10p to the price of a pint in pubs.
I added that pubs that used to be packed may still be fairly busy, but have lost trade nonetheless, and pubs that weren't so busy are facing lean times. Southport is supposed to be a holiday resort, but many of the local pubs were almost empty at the height of summer, which should be their peak time, and I fear that some may close. The full post is here.
Southport is fortunate in having some great pubs, better than many seaside towns I've been to, but I find the complacency of that Visiter headline irritating. I understand it was meant to be a "feel good" article, but if it misleads people into thinking that all's well with our local pubs, I'm not sure that it's doing them many favours. Perhaps I'm overreacting; let's hope it encourages a few more people to go out and enjoy what's on their doorstep.
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