An artisanally crafted blog curated by Cooking Lager for discerning readers of beer bloggery

Tuesday, 4 January 2011

Wetherspoons January Sale

Today marks the start of the Wetherspoons January Sale! Woo Woo, cheap pub based beer, should you wish to step into a pub. The tradition of January sales is more to do with retail operations off loading the current season’s stock to make way for the spring season; however retailers have long noticed it is an opportunity to flog cheap tat and stores are filled with stock specifically to offer on "discount".

As far as I’m aware pubs and restaurants have never been in the habit of discounting stock they are trying to shift and possibly with good reason. Would you buy a cheap meal on the understanding the ingredients are on the turn? Restaurants have their own methods of utilizing leftover stock. Soup of the day anyone?

However January is a quiet time for pubs for two reasons. Firstly people have spent up, often getting paid before Christmas and waiting until the end of January for the next pay cheque. Secondly the indulgences of the Christmas period often result in a natural tendency and desire not to repeat it through January. It is the month people resolve to drink less, eat better and get fitter. Gyms sell more memberships in January than any other month. Unless of course you resolve to drink more, as the Rabid Bar Fly heroically has decided to do here, pickling his liver and harming his long term health and wealth for our amusement.

The Spoons January Sale marks more than an opportunity to neck a cheap pint over the next couple of weeks. It marks one of the key reasons Wetherspoons buck the declining trends of their industry and succeed. It marks an understanding of the market, that now is a good time to offer a bargain. Wetherspoons are often disregarded on the beer blogosphere, as a lowest common denominator of pubs appealing to tight wads like me. They are so much more.

Where else is it absolutely clear what the opening times of the establishment are? Where else is it absolutely clear what the price is before you order your drinks? Where else offers enough choice to make everyone in a large group happy? Where else can you sit down for a dump in a clean toilet with an abundance of loo roll? The Wetherspoons do so much right. I would not and cannot describe a Wetherspoons as an ideal pub, my personal ideal is a much more continental waiter service Bräuhaus type model. However they do so much right other more expensive establishments get wrong. I’m not saying the model to pub based success is the Wetherspoons, I am saying look at what they get right, and it is no surprise they are successful when so many places offer so much less and expect people to pay so much more. On top of it all they offer a bargain, enough of a bargain to make you forgive all they get wrong, including long waiting times if they are busy.

I am a little undecided though? Pound fifty for a bitter or two quid for a lovely ice cold pint of lout?


I am Stan said...

Hi CL,

I enjoyed a pint of Guiness in my local WS last night,I noticed the Jan sale too,1:99 for fish n chips and a cup of tea,you couldn`t make it cheaper yourself,they are much derided but they give the customers what they want,good value and clean bogs.

Cooking Lager said...

Spoons is the only place to drink Guinness under £3 a pop Stan. A pint comes included with a £3.99 chilli in the sale. You can't go wrong.

Tandleman said...

Well said Cookie. Only snobs speak badly of JDW as a whole. Individual pubs can get stick and get it wrong, but the organisation knows what it is doing.

Tyson said...

Hmmm. Not as cheap as last year, though, when you could get a pint for 99p. If you look at some of the meal deals, they're not much different from the evryday prices. Still, a good marketing exercise.

Cooking Lager said...

No pub is going to be everyones cup of tea, Tand, but without snobbery I'd have nothing to blog about. Pricking the bubble of beer geek snobbery is what keeps me going.

In London, with no shortage of media professionals all making a decent whack, nice flats with Krug expresso machines, there will be a strong market for swanky expensive bars, even over priced "craft" beer. In most northern towns you have a higher than average level of unemployment with an average wage for those working below the national average. These towns are neither rough nor dark and satanic. They are quite nice places, but it's no surprise the punters like an offer that is both pretty decent and comparatively cheap. There is a market for craft beer and swanky bars, even oop north, most towns have them, but there is a bigger market for a cheap pint. We all like a bargain.

@Tyson. It's not 99p, but on the day VAT rises and other pubs are no doubt using it as an excuse for a price hike, and pub footfall is about to take a dip in a quiet month, it is not good marketing, it is great marketing.