According to an article in The Guardian newspaper based on data provided by CAMRA, due to rising beer prices, drinking in pubs is too expensive for half the population.
The Pub is not a cheap night out
According to CAMRA’s research the average price of pint in London is £5.20 in London. Nationally it averages £3.50 but there are wide regional differences. In Oxford you can expect to pay £4.57, slightly less in Edinburgh, Bristol and Brighton but for a cheap night out, head north to Carlisle where it is a bargain £2.35.
In supermarkets (outside Scotland) some beers can be bought for as little as a pound. Such is the price difference between the supermarkets and pubs, that more of us are drinking at home. There are even sheds and outbuilding being decorated as so called pub sheds. It’s part of a vicious circle, pubs still have outgoings to pay. If they sell less beer, prices will increase, the result, they will sell less beer. Unless this circle can be broken there is unlikely to be a reversal of the high pub closure trend.
Wetherspoons stand out as an exception using their strong buying power to keep prices down.
Pubs are hit several ways, VAT, beer duties, business rates and the high beer prices payable which are linked to their tenancy. CAMRA has repeatedly called for the tax authorities to help the sector through tax reductions, these though seem unlikely.
CAMRA believes the chancellor plans to further increase beer duties in the next budget whilst the limited rate relief ends next year.
Taxation and rates are not the only issue. A substantial part of our pub estate is owned by pub/property companies and breweries. They are accused of overcharging.
Rather than being able to compete for the best price, licensees are obliged to buy from specific suppliers at less competitive rates, the so called tie. A law change, The Pubs Code introduced in 2016, allows licensees to break from the tie. Instead they will pay market rents instead of the lower rent many pay with a tie. The law only applies to companies owning more than 500 pubs, implementation seems to be challenging.