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Are we calling time on our favourite pubs?

PUBLISHED: 11:36 31 July 2008 | UPDATED: 09:58 23 August 2010

Gravesend
29-07-08
The Call Boy pub
Drop in customers due to the price of alcohol
Landlady Mel Williams

Gravesend 29-07-08 The Call Boy pub Drop in customers due to the price of alcohol Landlady Mel Williams

BEER price rises, competition from supermarkets, the smoking ban and the credit crunch are being blamed for the lowest level of pub beer sales for 75 years. Sales fell by 1.6 million pints a day between April and June this year compared to the same quart

BEER price rises, competition from supermarkets, the smoking ban and the credit crunch are being blamed for the lowest level of pub beer sales for 75 years.

Sales fell by 1.6 million pints a day between April and June this year compared to the same quarter in 2007, according to the UK Quarterly Beer Barometer.

The figures collected by the British Beer and Pub Association, published last Friday, show that pub beer sales are at their lowest level since the Great Depression in 1930.

Despite this, the sale of alcohol in supermarkets and shops has continued to rise, with a 3.8 per cent increase.

Mel Williams, 41, landlady of the Call Boy, on Harmer Street, Gravesend, said: "I have been a landlady for the last three-and-a-half years and in the last year I have noticed fewer and fewer people coming into the pub.

"We have been hit badly by the smoking ban, but what lots of people are doing is going to the supermarkets for their alcohol. It is just so cheap that it is ruining it for us, pubs are shutting day by day.

"The late licences mean that a lot of people are coming out at midnight, staying at home to drink - rather then visiting a pub - and then going straight out to the bars or clubs that are open later, it's cheaper."

Tony Dunn, 49, landlord of the Westcourt Inn, St Hilda's Way, Gravesend, said: "Problems began with the smoking ban, that is what really started killing the trade, but I would say that in the last year, the number of people that are coming into the pub has less than halved.

"It's the price. We can't compete with all the big supermarkets like Asda. You can get 30 pints for £10, we can't compete with that.

"The government are putting up the taxes on cigarettes and alcohol, and with it they are slowly killing pubs."

BBPA chief executive Rob Hayward said that the government needs to change its approach to the brewing industry and stop further tax increases. He said: "Beer sales are on the slide and the tax increase in the Budget has made it worse. This is hitting Britain's brewers and pubs hard.

"With around one million jobs reliant on the trade, the loss of 1.6 million pints a day is having a serious impact on the UK economy as

a whole.

"We need a change of approach from the government. Brewing is a major industry, beer our national drinks and pubs a treasured part of our national culture."

ed.riley@archant.co.uk

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