It’s certainly one of them, and I would go as far to say it’s the main one to be honest. But it’s not the only one. The thing about the old boozers – and I have to admit here that I like the old, traditional British boozer – is that it doesn’t appeal to many people. It doesn’t generally appeal to women.
People still go there, don’t get me wrong. But they tend to go... how can I put this nicely? When I used to regularly go, for example when I was at university, I would go at the end of the day and meet up with friends and have a couple of pints. That is far less common these days. When people generally go to the pub these days it’s for a night out – to have a good time and to drink heavily. That sort of social, multi-generational drinking is starting to go.
"When people generally go to the pub these days it’s for a night out – to have a good time and to drink heavily. That sort of social, multi-generational drinking is starting to go."
Cost is one of the issues. There’s no doubt about that. The disparity between buying drink in a supermarket and a pub is huge. Also it’s reached a point now where we’ve got so many more distractions in our own homes. Much more than we did in the 1970s, say. Everything’s on a phone or an iPad. You’ve got computers, Netflix... all that sort of stuff, which is of course a partial reason for the decline of pubs.
I don’t actually think pubs are dying. I think maybe the traditional pubs are. You can see some pubs like this in old predominantly working class neighbourhoods of London. They’re hanging on with the old clientele, and if all they’re doing is appealing to people like me – I’m in my late fifties – they won’t survive. The best pubs today have changed – they invariably have to sell food and have some form of entertainment.
The pubs that have adapted and reflect our modern times have a much better chance of survival than those that are a relic of a bygone age. Whilst the rise in home drinking isn’t solely to blame for pubs closing I would certainly put it as the main reason – as high as 65 per cent.
"The pubs that have adapted and reflect our modern times have a much better chance of survival than those that are a relic of a bygone age."
We now drink more beer in our own homes – just over 50 per cent. We’ve always drunk spirits in our own homes. Almost 90 per cent of wine is drunk in our homes. We’re also increasingly drinking more cider in our own homes. And something else we’re drinking more in our own homes is RTDs – Ready to Drinks, Bacardi Breezers and the like. Since 2002, consumption of RTDs has increased by 20 per cent. So we’re drinking a lot more at home and that is contributing to closure of pubs. It’s not the sole reason. But in my opinion it is the main one.