Wednesday 22 July 2009

Closing Pubs Controversy

The Southport Drinker and Jeff Bell both feature the current furore over pub closures. The argument seems to be "what constitutes a closure?". There are various ways of counting these things, but one aspect seems certain. The figures are being manipulated by those quoting them, to suit the side of the argument they wish to pursue. Absolute numbers we can rely on are hard to come by. Bloggers are working in the dark somewhat in commenting.

In this area many pubs close and don't re-open. A few do, but usually not for long. Many are demolished. Almost all of these seem to me, anecdotally and observationally, to be at the bottom end of the market and won't be missed by many, but that may not be the case always and elsewhere. What I think we can say with a degree of confidence is that in most areas lots of pubs are closing forever. The devil, as always, is in the detail. Ron Pattinson for example has already pointed out that pub numbers have always fluctuated and were already at quite a high - so maybe this shake out is an inevitable market correction?

I have always argued that good pubs will survive and bad ones won't. The offer always needs to reflect the market conditions and in so many cases it just doesn't. Of course I am not forgetting the PubCos whose role in this whole problem is at best unsavoury. These guys are a large contributing factor and illustrate yet another "unacceptable face of capitalism". There are quite a few knocking about at the moment.

So to sum up, we just don't know exactly, but one other thing seems to be confirmed - the old adage that "there are lies, damned lies and statistics!"


Cooking Lager said...

Fair play, this is the best "pubs closing" blog so far. The stats can mean anything, and people interpret them according to their own anecdotal evidence. In that way, everyone's right, and no ones wrong. Group Hug?

Curmudgeon said...

Yes, it's generally the crap pubs that are closing, but they aren't closing because they're crap, they're closing because the size of the on-trade beer market has more than halved over the past thirty years and continues to fall sharply. And it's got to the stage now where some good, or potentially good, pubs are being swept into the net too. The Three Shires in Stockport and the Railway at Heatley both closed their doors while they were current Good Beer Guide entries.

Sat In A Pub said...

There may be some debate over exactly how many pubs are closing but there is no denying that they are-in increasing numbers. That's a fact. The usually reliable Mr Pattinson has led himself up somewhat of a blind alley-I'm afraid records of on-licences just aren't specific enough to pubs. And people coming out with nonsense that most pubs reopen is far from helpful.

Is it really true that good pubs will survive and bad ones won't? It must depend on what you class as good, I suppose. Because although I would be tempted to agree with you, that won't explain areas such as Radcliffe which has plenty of poor pubs but a lower rate of closure than elsewhere.

Tandleman said...

I wouldn't dismiss Ron out of hand on this one, though having inspected old style licensing records, I know what you mean. They are a mess.

As to why and where, I did say in my piece it won't be the same everywhere, but I certainly couldn't say why exactly. And most pubs certainly don't re-open.