Tuesday, 4 August 2015

Turning the corner

According to the latest Greene King Leisure Spend Tracker, the amount people spent on drinking out rose by 5% in June compared to twelve months previously. The corresponding figure for eating out was 6%. As they say, one swallow doesn't make a booze up, so I look at these figures with some caution - they might be no more than a statistical blip - although the fact that drinking out went up 3% compared to May suggests otherwise (eating out 1% down for the same period).

Other findings included:
  • 27% would like facilities, such as WiFi, to enable them to work away from both the office and home.
  • 64% thought the pub was an important economic and social asset to the community.
  • Only 14% thought pubs should do more to contribute to the local community.
Technology and flexible working mean the pub can be a plausible place to work. A Wetherpoons-style operation with tea, coffee and food as well as alcohol, combined with no music or loud sports, is well suited to benefit from this shift in working practices. Expensive coffee chains benefit from customers arriving with their laptops and getting to work over a coffee, so there's no logical reason why suitable pubs can't do the same.

This is not for every pub, of course, but then we have moved a long way from the essentially similar pubs with similar clientele (and similar beers) that prevailed until the effects of the Beer Orders kicked in more than twenty years ago. Variety in the pub industry is greater now than it has been at any previous time in my 40+ years of pub-going, so work-friendly pubs is a logical development of that diversity.

All this speculation may all be premature - next month could show a massive drop in the spending on drinking out - but I hope not, and I think not. I'll be ready to eat humble pie if I'm wrong.

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