Something fascinating from the Guardian. Not often you can say that. Ignoring the authors point about “lager swilling losers”, there is some interesting statistics regarding the rise of pub based prices. Now all prices rise over time, but pub price inflation is higher than both general inflation and wage inflation and has been for some time. In prosperous times you would expect wage inflation to exceed general inflation, that people get more prosperous. In current economic times you can observe price inflation exceeding wage inflation as a sign of falling prosperity.
Many reasons are given for the decline of pubs, from smoking bans to changing behaviour and customer expectations. There are those drinkers that may have a love of the pub that goes beyond regular drinkers, and consider the pub something to be protected. These people may indeed be prepared to pay an ever increasing proportion of their income to “support” pubs. There are even some odd types that think people need to be “educated” to appreciate pubs more and be prepared to pay more for them. I would hypothesis that most people fall into the category that I belong to. That of quite enjoying a pub that fulfils my own basic criteria of being clean and nicely furnished and welcoming to all but really isn’t that interested in sinking a lot on a school night. Someone that enjoys a drink as part of a wider set of interests. If pubs become ever more expensive we will use pubs less. That our hard earned income is for the purpose of enjoying our own lives and not “supporting” any given industry, especially one that seeks to give us ever poorer value. It is no surprise to me that arguably the most noteworthy success story of the pub industry is J D Wetherspoons, a company that offers comparatively lower prices than the competition.
So when contemplating the decline of pubs and lamenting the propensity of those of us who enjoy cheap supermarket alcohol and drink occasionally in cheap pubs, please do not seek a legislative answer. Please do not think for one minute that price controls will save the Great British Pub. Out of my monthly take home pay there is only so much of it I am prepared to hand over for the privilege of boozing. I have a world of other expenses I choose to spend my money on that give me as much pleasure, if not more, than visiting a pub or having a drink.
Oh the stats :-