Wednesday 13 December 2017

Beginning of the end for the traditional pub

THE DECLINE of the pub trade was really highlighted at a distressed auction sale last week when a high profile premises on Wexford's Main Street failed to sell for a knockdown price of €275,000.

South 51, which was previously Tim's Tavern and Eddie Hall's before that, would probably have had an asking price of over a million a few years ago.

However, the days of thriving pubs are at an end and the way things are going, another generation will probably see the end to the traditional Irish pub. The time when every pub had its own local trade and friendly atmosphere are long gone. Trade in most establishments in now confined to a few nights around the weekend and ' locals' are largely a thing of the past.

The decline of the Irish pub can be traced to the huge loans advanced by the banks for people to buy up premises at exorbitant prices over many years. To make the business viable, many pubs were extended, robbing them of much of their character, while in all cases drink prices were increased year after year, even when the government left taxes unchanged.

Then when the off-licence trade began to explode, the pubs were left totally exposed as people began to understand the real price of drink and quickly came to the conclusion that they were being ripped off in pubs. The result was that a drift from pub to home drinking soon became a stampede and the pubs have been on a downward spiral ever sense.

The only hope for the future is some move towards special offer pricing in pubs coupled with a return to a traditional type pub atmosphere while at the same time tackling the issue of below cost selling of alcohol by supermarkets where drink is simply being sold at too cheap a rate.

Both issues would require government action in the form of legislation, so don't hold your breath.

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