Friday, November 24, 2006

Pub Alcohol sales drop in the year since licensing easing

From Bloomberg:

Alcohol sales in U.K. pubs, bars and clubs have fallen since the government eased restrictions on opening hours a year ago and drinking habits have barely changed, a trade group said.

The volume of alcohol sold in licensed establishments fell 2 percent in the year through September, according to the British Beer and Pub Association, which represents more than half the pubs in the U.K. Food sales are gaining, the group said.

On Nov. 24, 2005, Prime Minister Tony Blair introduced the biggest change in U.K. drinking laws since World War I, allowing pubs to apply for a license to serve alcohol all day and night. The government said longer drinking hours would make towns safer and consumption more measured. Critics including the opposition Conservative Party, judges and doctors said it would fuel ``binge drinking.''

...........The biggest change has been the disappearance of the ``last orders'' rush, when drinkers hurried to buy drinks before closing time, according to pub groups. By law, they had 20 minutes to finish their drinks before they had to leave.

"You don't get anything like the rush you used to,'' Jim Clarke, finance director at J.D. Wetherspoon Plc, which owns 629 pubs in England, said. "It makes it much more pleasant.''

The government's aim was to reduce the number of fights that took place as city centre pubs all ejecting drunken customers onto the streets at the same time.

"There appears to be a genuine spread of closing times, bringing an end to the old madness of everyone being thrown out onto the street at the same time,'' Licensing Minister Shaun Woodward said in a statement.

Some police forces have reported falls in the level of alcohol-related crime. Sussex police, whose beat includes the seaside resort of Brighton, said 1,000 fewer people had been injured in alcohol-related violence since the law changed. Greater Manchester Police said actual bodily harm cases were down 0.8 percent.



Anecdotally, there seems to have been a subtle change in drinking habits: people are going to the pub later, after they've had their dinner, and there is no longer any pressure to gulp the alcohol down or binge. Drinking on a stomach lined with food and simply slowing down the speed that alcohol was drunk probably resulted in the volume drunk to reduce.

Good on the government for pushing through this change instead of caving to the opposition's silly argument which went as follows: "Last orders has caused a surge in rushed and binge drinking, therefore we must keep it at all costs!"

4 comments:

Mark Wadsworth said...

Or might it be that pub sales have fallen because of smoking ban in Scotland?

snowflake5 said...

Scots are only 8.5% of teh total UK population. Therefore if they alone were the cause of the 2% drop in overall UK consumption, Scottish drinking would have to have slumped by > 20% - unlikely don't you think?!

Mark Wadsworth said...

You are a dab hand with statistics, why don't you check relative fall in England and in Scotland?

Of course, supermarket alcohol has also become steadily cheaper over the years, rising certainly far less than inflation whereas a pint in the pub seems to go up all the time.

jams o donnell said...

For what it's worth Romford town centre on a Saturday night does not seem to be quite the warzone it was just a year ago.