The decline of Britain’s Public Houses

There could be an argument put forward that Britain’s Public Houses have been declining since 1900 when there was 100,000 of them. However, even though there was a drop during the 20th century the quality of the establishment had improved, and it was still seen very much as the centre of the community.

Pub closed. A far too familiar site in recent times

The number of pubs in 1935 was 77,500 but this was a good number. The 100,000 at the end of the 19th century was simply too many and they weren’t the most desirable establishments one could hope to visit. In 1935 many pubs had been rebuilt and the industry was thriving with many pubs bringing a variety of social activities to the community. This figure was actually maintained until 1969 and then in the next 11 years it had declined to 69,000. In 2006 the numbers were down to 58,200 and by the year 2017 it was down to 50,000. However, the most alarming statistic is that in the last 11 years another 19% of pubs have been lost pubs.

To blame one reason for the decline of an institution that had been previously seen to be such an important part of British society would simply be wrong. It is more of case of many factors coming together. The decline of the traditional high street in urban areas has seen the inner-city number of pubs decline. The recent building of out of city shopping malls has resulted in the old high street areas having less people passing through them each day. The potential numbers of customers have dropped.

The recent tougher sentences on drink driving means that many people do not visit the pub any more as it is simply more difficult to get there. In time the authorities have used more successful advertising campaigns against people drink driving and its success has meant less customers to the landlord. Since the 1st July smoking has been banned in all enclosed public spaces which includes pubs. Only a fifth of all Britain’s smoke but a disproportionately high number of smokers used to go to pubs. There was a loss of 14% of all smokers vising pubs in the two years after the ban.

Smokers no longer welcomed inside the pub

Government legislation has resulted in the price of beer being much higher than can be found in supermarkets. The tax on pint of beer is 53p per pint and that added to higher bar persons wages means it is becoming less economically viable to run a pub. It is hardly surprising that in tough economic time’s people prefer to sit at home, purchasing cheaper alcohol from supermarkets, while having the freedom to smoke. The cost of transport to and from the pub does not apply and it has had a drastic impact on pub trade.

There has also been a cultural change with people’s attitudes towards day time drinking. Lunch time drinking is now frowned upon by many businesses, and this has been closely linked with the growth of coffee houses. People actually prefer visiting the many coffee house at lunch time as it is simply a healthier environment to the pub. Afternoon production in the office is not affected by an extra-large cappuccino but can the same be said about a pint of beer. The last reason is that people are simply going off the taste of beer. In 2003 the average adult drank 218 pints but by 2011 this figure had dropped by 30% to 152 pints. Meanwhile sales in Wine have remained stable.

There are many reasons why so many pubs have closed recently. It is ironic that in an era when the country has decided to leave the European Union, a major reason for the decline can be attributed to the country acquiring more European tastes.