Inflation and reduced bookings are spoiling the Christmas spirit in British pubs


“Our regulars spend the same amount of time in our place but consume less” says pub manager

Inside the Mad Hatter pub in central London’s South Bank district, everything is ready: the Christmas tree, the colorful lanterns, the cheerful festive signs.

The mood may be festive, but the mood behind the bar – not only in this particular establishment, but also in other equally brilliantly decorated pubs around the country – is not so upbeat.

December, a critical month for the sector thanks to Christmas parties that are a UK institution and other social events, up to 10% of the annual revenue of such a business.

After the pandemic hit festive events and their revenue over the past two years, pubs, bars and other places of food and entertainment rely on the coming season to recover.

However, this is not guaranteed due to the crisis with the rising cost of livingof the predictions that the country is already in recessionof grown-ups human resource shortages and of strikesamong them and in the nodal sector of transportation.

“We’re looking forward to a busy Christmas period,” says Emma McClarkin, president of the British Brewery and Pub Association (BBPA). “The work is absolutely necessary after three years when trade did not move at Christmas”, as he explains.

According to McClarkin, bookings are currently 20% below 2019’s pre-pandemic levels.

Pubs have been a fixture of British communities for centuries, but their numbers have been declining in recent years and have fallen to their lowest level yet, according to figures published in July.

Although they were forced to close during the pandemic, government support programs helped them take a financial breather.

But the post-pandemic picture is currently mixed, with around 50 hangouts closing each month.

Less consumption

Marston’s Brewery, which features more than 1,400 pubsdescribed Christmas bookings as “encouraging”, saying that so far exceed 2019 levels.

The same time, the first World Cup in history to be held in winter, boosted sales, especially when England were playing.

However, the company fears that 2023 will be a difficult year amid predictions of a deep recession.

London’s financial hub, the City, appears to be much less affected by financial headaches.

At The Globe Pub alcohol flows abundantly with a steady stream of Christmas parties at her premises, according to her manager.

The budget in the region bucks the broader economic trend: an office party at the local pub costs around 23,000 eurossays a waiter who asked not to be named.

But a little further north, in the Camden area, the small cocktail bar “Crossroads” looks a drop in his work even compared to last year which was interrupted by covid lockdowns.

“Unfortunately we had to raise our prices in October due to the increase in wholesale prices, but bookings remained the same as last year at the same time,” says store manager Bart Mideksa.

“Our regular customers spend the same amount of time in our space, but consume less,” he explains.



Further north, at The Stag pub in middle-town Hampstead, bookings are comparable to the pre-pandemic period.

But the focus is on the offers to those customers who pay attention to their finances.

“We have been experiencing inflation in food prices, especially butter and cooking oil since the Russian invasion of Ukraine,” explains manager John Perritt.

In the United Kingdom o inflation it is at 11% and up to 60% for some food categories such as cooking oil and spaghetti, putting pressure on citizens’ budgets and businessmen’s profit margins.

“The Stag”, a venue chosen mainly by civil servants employed in a neighboring hospital, is trying to adapt to the new economic reality.

“We offer packages that are as affordable as possible,” says Perritt, adding that this year his pub is offering a one-course Christmas menu for 20 pounds which increases in 36.5 pounds for more dishes.

Back at the Mad Hatter, John Paul Caffery, owner of a technology consulting firm, points out that this year’s “Christmas party is clearly more expensive than last year’s”.

“We tried to get around that hurdle by choosing a place that hasn’t raised prices,” he says.

Christopher Jones, 54, from Wales, who is in the capital on business, is due to throw a small party with colleagues and customers at the local pub where the price of a pint of beer rose by a pound.

“Coming out of the Covid period we must enjoy our lives. But at the same time let’s be a little careful with our budget and expenses,” he adds.


You May Also Like

Recommended for you