The call to back your local pub comes from Highlands and Islands MSP, Jamie McGrigor, after new research from Molson Coors reveals the value of pubs to local communities.
He says that the report shows that 42 pubs (the largest number in Scotland) have closed in Argyll & Bute in last 5 years.
It is not surprising that the research showed what most folk would guess – that after the local shop, pubs were the most frequently visited amenity, with a third of Scots visiting the local at least twice a month.
The independent report showed the lengths to which some publicans are going to keep their business afloat. Their tenacity and creativity is in fact changing the perception of the local pub, attracting new customers and injecting renewed vitality into the sector.
This has created a whole new market for local publicans, who now see more women visiting their premises, as well as a younger audience.
This commitment to sustain the industry has wider implications for the Scottish economy.
With over 50,000 Scots’ jobs and £1.5bn of our national GDP dependent on the twin industries of beer and pubs, pub closures put at risk jobs, many of which are people’s first jobs, and an important industry during a challenging time for the economy.
Commenting Jamie McGrigor, who met with representatives of Molson Coors last week, said: ‘Despite local pubs continuing to be popular among local residents, a combination of factors has made trading conditions difficult which has forced many to close. Across Argyll & Bute, 42 (or 32%) have ceased trading in the last five years alone while the % decline in Inverness & Nairn is 36%. Since 2007 in Scotland as a whole, over 700 pubs have shut.’
The climate pubs face today has been irrevocably changed by the very necessary crackdown on drinking and driving. Where people used to stop at a pub for a pie and a pint or a bistro lunch and a drink on a longer journey or a day out, these days they may still do it but 50% of a couple, the driver, won’t take a drink.
Many pubs now serve first class coffee – which is a pleasure. Only pit stop cafes or pubs these days can get away with anything less. Some pubs do fresh-baked scones, doubling up a cafe function in small places – an excellent idea.
Providing good food is hard on overheads through staffing costs where, in small communities, the service may be rarely used other than at weekends.
Then if you only serve food only at weekends, the aura of the pub for casuals during the week is unexciting. This is a hard cycle to break.
Heat is another issue. A cold pub is a contradiction in terms and a warm pub is a heavy hit on the account balance. Every person who comes in has to feel a warm welcome, even if the pub was empty before they came in. This costs.
Running a pub used to be a cash cow. No longer. It’s now a tough job to stay afloat, requiring constant invention and a focus on maintaining standards. A village that loses its pub becomes oddly unfocused. The pub is a community centre and its loss is hard felt.
Note:Here are the basic source documents t which Jamie McGrigor refers.