The number of places where people can have a drink in the U.K. have not reduced despite the market conditions getting tough due to the emergence of casual dining offsetting of the closures of pubs.
Compared to a year earlier, there has been a rise of 0.1 per cent in the number of licensed premises in the U.K. as of September 2017 with the total number being 122,783. And a long running term trend of reduction in the number of drink-led pubs continued with a fall of 2.3% in the same period. However, the overall numbers were kept stable by the rise of 1.6 per cent in the number of restaurants in the U.K. in the same time period.
There have a number of headwinds that have been faced by the industry in recent times including continued uncertainty over Brexit, reducing budgets of consumers and rising food prices and the numbers that were compiled by CGA and Alix Partners from very recent data reflect a tendency of resilience in the industry for licensed trade despite the headwinds. There has also been a change in the manner of leisure habit for families who choose to spend additional times eating out together and the data shows that eth industry has been quick to adjust to this change.
Pubs should be helped to become competitive with cheap supermarket prices by the government through the reduction of taxation bills on them, believes campaigners such as JD Wetherspoon founder Tim Martin. Serving of a wider range of food, breakfast and upmarket coffee is a strategy that has been used by Wetherspoon to responded to changes in the market.
The rising trend of the people choosing to eat out with families on a budget has forced the conversion of its pubs into casual dining places by Marston’s which is a brewer and operates multiple pubs. But despite their emphasis on food, these pubs are included in the survey’s wet-led pubs figures.
Categories have become less relevant and therefore importance of the overall number of premises has assumed more importance because of the fading and blurring lines between pubs and restaurants, said Peter Martin, vice president of CGA.
“Food and drink is being leveraged together. Often a pub may look like it’s food-led but the main sales are still from drinks. For the consumer it doesn’t really matter whether it’s a pub or a restaurant. They say ‘It’s somewhere I want to go.'”
Buying material goods have taken a back seat over leisure such as eating out and spending weekends away are being prioritized by consumers in what is being termed as the experience economy and this has benefitted the restaurants and food-led pubs, said Martin. The research found that medium sized firms seeking to turn into big brands and entrepreneurial start-ups led the growth of restaurants in the past year.
“The market isn’t growing but overall it’s still healthy because people are still going out to eat and drink in more straitened times,” Martin said.
(Adapted from Digitallook.com)