The UK’s current pub scene under the spotlight

Those across Scotland and the rest of the UK have been living with the smoking ban for more than a decade now, whereby it is against the law to smoke in enclosed workplaces. The pub industry has been affected by the legislation in particular, as Flogas, specialist LPG suppliers to pubs, explores in this article…

Support and benefits from the smoking ban being introduced

It appears as though staff members at pubs and bars across the UK are healthier now than prior to the smoking ban. This is after The Impact of Smokefree Legislation In England: Evidence Review, commissioned by the Department of Health, revealed that the exposure of bar workers in England to second-hand smoke has reduced by between 73 and 91 per cent in the 10 years since the smoking ban took effect.

The respiratory health of such workers has also improved. This is highlighted by a study of 178 bar workers from 46 bars in three urban and two rural geographic areas in England, which found that the percentage of those reporting respiratory illness dropped from 67 per cent pre-ban to 40 per cent in 2008 — just a year after the legislation was introduced.

With this in mind, it shouldn’t come as much of a surprise that two YouGov surveys have shown that a lot of people back the nation’s smoking ban. One study by the organisation involving over 10,000 adults revealed that the level of public support across the country now stands at 83 per cent. Even 52 per cent of those who smoked on a daily basis supported the legislation — only 25 per cent opposed the ban.

YouGov has found in another poll, in which more than 4,000 adults were surveyed, that close to three-quarters would not support the smoking ban being overturned today. In contrast, only 12 per cent are holding out hope that the legislation one day disappears.

A negative aspect of the UK’s current pub scene

The UK’s pub scene isn’t entirely filled with good news at the moment unfortunately. This is because the 2018 edition of the Campaign for Real Ale’s (CAMRA) Good Beer Guide published in September 2017, revealed that there are under 47,000 pubs now situated across the UK. This number is down significantly from the 75,000 pubs which could be found throughout the nation in the early 1970s when CAMRA was formed. Furthermore, the guide calculates that 21 pubs close in a typical week at the moment.

There is far from just one reason that can be pinpointed into why the number of pubs are dropping throughout the UK though. A rise in tax applied to drinks served in pubs will have played a part, for example, as well as the economic crash of the late 2000s which means that average real-terms pay is still below that recorded in 2007. However, some are of the belief that the smoking ban has had a key part to play, with smokers’ rights lobby group Forest’s Simon Clark underlining that its impact has been “devastating”.

Remembering that British adults’ drinking habits have shifted

One aspect that must be acknowledged when looking at the UK’s current pub scene is that adults throughout Great Britain have changed their drinking habits over the past decade or so. This is after the Office for National Statistics found that 56.9 per cent of respondents to the organisation’s Opinions and Lifestyle Survey drank alcohol in the week before they were interviewed for the study in 2016. While still a healthy percentage, it represents the lowest proportion of adults who said they drink alcohol since 2005. The same survey also revealed that just 9.6 per cent of adults in Great Britain said in 2016 that they drank alcohol on five or more days in the average week, while 20.9 per cent now deemed themselves as being teetotal.

When pub landlords and owners are thinking of ways to make their establishments an attractive site for people to socialise then, they should be considering how to cater for those who will be enjoying their bar with an alcoholic drink in their hand as much as individuals who will be looking for entertainment without the need for alcohol.

Creating the ideal British pub today

Landlords and owners may find a survey from YouGov Omnbius extremely useful as they search for ways to keep punters coming through their doors. This is because the findings shed some light on what is deemed to be Britain’s ideal pub today.

The survey found that 67 per cent of people would be hoping that meals are served at Britain’s ideal pub, which makes this desire the single most important characteristic for pubgoers. The fact it had a beer garden was the next most important feature (63 per cent acknowledged this), followed by the need for it to have a fireplace (52 per cent). Here’s the remainder of the results:

  • 51 per cent would like bar staff to know regular customers by name and take an interest in everyone.
  • 50 per cent would like it to sell snacks.
  • 37 per cent would like it to serve real ale.
  • 35 per cent would like it to host live music.
  • 35 per cent would like it to play background music.
  • 34 per cent would like it to host pub quizzes.
  • 32 per cent would like it to allow dogs.
  • 27 per cent would like it not to allow children.
  • 25 per cent would like it to have bookcases full of books.
  • 24 per cent would like it to have either a snooker or a pool table.
  • 23 per cent would like it to serve cocktails.
  • 18 per cent would like it to show football and other sports.
  • 17 per cent would like it to have televisions on the walls.
  • 17 per cent would like it to have a dart board.
  • 16 per cent would like it to have Victorian architecture.
  • 14 per cent would like it to have leather seats.
  • 13 per cent would like it to provide tankards.
  • Nine per cent would like it to have at least one quiz machine.
  • Six per cent would like it to sell cigarettes and/or tobacco.
  • Five per cent would like it to have at least one fruit machine.

Another interesting finding from the YouGov Omnibus survey is that 77 per cent of people would be hoping that the atmosphere of Britain’s ideal pub would be situated between being busy and quiet. Just 17 per cent answered that they would prefer it to be always quiet and a mere four per cent frequently busy.

Highlighting the importance of having a pub garden

We’ve already touched on the popularity of pub gardens across Britain in the YouGov Omnibus study. However, Cuprinol has offered more insight into why they are so appealing. According to a study commissioned by the woodcare specialists and carried out by independent research company Fly Research, 61 per cent of Brits stated that spending time in a beer garden made them happy and 53 per cent pointed out that the setting is the perfect way to spend an afternoon out with friends and family.

What is also interesting is that 61 per cent of Brits felt that pub landlords were not currently making the most of their establishment’s outdoor space. 34 per cent also acknowledged that they would be willing to spend more time in a pub’s beer garden if it was more welcoming in its design. With this in mind, those in charge of running a pub should take note of Cuprinol’s top five unwelcoming traits of a beer garden…

  1. 73 per cent find cigarette butts in a beer garden an unwelcoming trait.
  2. 69 per cent find dirty furniture and decking an unwelcoming trait.
  3. 58 per cent find rotten wood an unwelcoming trait.
  4. 57 per cent find a beer garden being situated in a dark and dingy space an unwelcoming trait.
  5. 51 per cent find chipped and peeling paint an unwelcoming trait.

“Pubs are closing at an alarming rate, so it’s important that landlords make the most of any outdoor space… When the sun is shining, there really is no better place to enjoy a pint of real ale than in a well-maintained British beer garden,” Neil Walker, the Press Manager at CAMRA, was keen to add.

Sources:

http://ash.org.uk/media-and-news/press-releases-media-and-news/media-advisory-tenth-anniversary-of-smokefree-legislation/

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-40444460

https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/216319/dh_124959.pdf

https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2017/sep/14/british-pubs-under-threat-eye-watering-business-rates-camra

https://yougov.co.uk/news/2017/08/08/what-does-ideal-pub-look/

http://www.theresident.co.uk/food-drink-london/campaign-save-britains-pub-gardens/

https://www.ons.gov.uk/peoplepopulationandcommunity/healthandsocialcare/drugusealcoholandsmoking/bulletins/opinionsandlifestylesurveyadultdrinkinghabitsingreatbritain/2005to2016#adult-drinking-habits-in-great-britain-2005-to-2016