For those of you that weren’t aware, it’s been a rough few years in the pub industry. Between tough business rates, beer duty & VAT, the pinch on pubs has been a constant struggle for everyone from the big branded corporate operators down to the little guys like us trying to fend for ourselves.
“Around 40 pubs a month, a total of 235, have closed since the start of the year according to the real estate adviser, Altus Group,” reported industry insider Catering Todaylast month. I’m sure you’ve seen some casualties for yourself – be it on the High Street where astronomical rent and rates have seen independent businesses replaced by what seems to be an interminable amount of charity and betting shops, to more local communities – but it’s not all bad news.
Whilst 40 pubs a month is still a depressing figure, it’s actually meant to be positive news, as this statistic represents a sharp decrease. In 2018, it was calculated that 78 pubs per month closing their doors, so the rate of closures has halved over the space of 12 months. The flood is slowly being dammed, albeit at the cost of too many beleaguered tenants, landlords and leasees. There is of course also the argument that there are only a finite number of pubs in the land, so if hundreds have already closed then there won’t be as many left to go anyway.
So, what can you do about it?
Think about where you would be sad to hear was closing and go spend your hard-earned cash there.
Well, the good news is, everything I’m about to ask you is quite simple, extremely painless and might even be good for you.
- It might sound obvious, but the biggest thing you can do is visit the pub! Not just our pub, not just your favourite pub, but any pub that you’ve got fond memories of. Make an effort to go some place different. Where did you used to go as kids? Where did you go for your first date? Where would you be sad if you found out it wasn’t open anymore? Go there for dinner! With the average Brit ordering 5 takeaways a week I know it’s easier to order a Deliveroo or UberEats or whatever, but if you could forego that just one night a week to visit a proper pub you’d be supporting local business and that money you spend on dinner might be crucial to their weekly take. And we all know that going out and interacting with others is better for your mental health too.
- Only leave positive reviews. In a culture where customers can air any grievance online – from the quality of your toilet paper to the apoplectic rage of an al dente carrot – I’d urge you to spread kindness like confetti instead. If you’re partial to leaving an online review, my suggestion would be to only review the places you like. The world is a generally a nicer place when we focus on the positive things in life and this is never truer than in the world of Tripadvisor/Google/OpenTable/Facebook/Yelp reviews. If you don’t like something about a place, then let them know at the time of the visit rather than posthumously ripping it apart online when you get home. Those negative reviews you’re leaving are affecting businesses in real terms, from advertising revenue to SEO results, not to mention the psychological effect of watching your own hard work being dragged through the mud. I tend to think if we all only left positive reviews, we’d be able to see the substandard venues because they would be conspicuous in their absence of any reviews at all, whilst the well-loved places would flourish. I bet if you go ahead and write 3 nice reviews right now you’ll feel a little bit better about the world too.
- So you’ve treated yourself to a meal out at a lovely pub you want to see flourish, you’ve left positive feedback online to let everyone else know why you enjoyed it, but now what? Well, the final step is super simple. Click hereto sign the petition to cut beer tax. It’ll take less than a minute. And if you feel really motivated, you can go ahead and write to your MPin support of pubs up and down the country.
So there you have it: three incredibly simple ways you can help slow the rate of pub closures in the UK. None of them are particularly taxing and I am willing to bet a large glass of pinot grigio that all of these actions will give you at least a slightly warm fuzzy feeling. Give it a try. Eat local, drink local, support your local.
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Slowly but surely you helped to breathe life back into the place. You filled it up with love and laughter. You have dragged it back from obscurity to place it back into the heart of the community.
Like so many others, we got into this trade because we love sharing these little boltholes with others and watching you enjoy them and make memories to cherish between these walls. We do it because we like a bit of banter whilst pouring a beer. We’ve always believed in doing the best we can with the circumstances we’ve got.
Time to whip up a quick homemade soup with whatever veggies you’ve got in your fridge.