News

Pubs / 22 May 2020

Bank holiday beer garden blow: Pubs to lose 10 million pint bank holiday weekend boost due to lockdown  

 

  • Bank holiday weekend of good weather and FA Cup Final, which would’ve seen Brits flock to pubs and their beer gardens, adds to woes of pubs in lockdown
  • FA Cup Final alone would have boosted beer sales by 2 million pints on Saturday alone
  • BBPA calls for bank holiday in October to “replace” May bank holidays

 

The upcoming bank holiday weekend (Saturday 23rd to Monday 25th May) is to add to the woes of pubs who’ve had to shut for the COVID-19 lockdown.

The British Beer & Pub Association (BBPA), the leading trade association representing brewers and pubs, has revealed that pubs will lose a boost to beer sales totalling as much as 10 million extra pints over the bank holiday weekend compared with a normal weekend as a direct result of the lockdown.

With good weather expected across the duration of the bank holiday weekend, reaching as high as 24C on Monday afternoon, Brits would have typically flocked to their local pub beer garden to soak up the sun and enjoy the weekend under normal circumstances – boosting sales by up to 10 million pints.

Furthermore, the weekend would have included the FA Cup Final on the Saturday – a key sporting event in the calendar for pubs that would have also drawn customers in to revel in the unique matchday experience that can only be found in the local. According to the BBPA, the FA Cup Final on Saturday alone would have contributed 2 million pints of the overall 10 million pint boost.

Pubs were the first businesses to be ordered to shut down by the Government all the way back in March, and could be amongst the last to re-open as lockdown restrictions are lifted for them from July 4th as part of the Government’s third phase of re-opening.

The BBPA has re-iterated though that not all pubs will reopen from July as many won’t be able to meet the social distancing measures required by then. No two pubs are the same and for many, ensuring a distance of two metres will be impossible, keeping them closed for much longer.

The trade association has therefore proposed using advice and guidance from the World Health Organisation from July, which suggests using one metre for social distancing as opposed to two metres. This, it says, would help pubs to re-open viably and serve their communities again – by significantly increasing the number of pubs that could re-open by 120%. Pubs are already looking at operating plans and preparing additional safety protocols to reassure staff and customers they can create a safe socialising environment.

It has also stated that pubs with beer gardens or outside terraces should be best placed to meet social distancing restrictions required for re-opening from July 4th, or maybe even open pub beer gardens earlier if Government allows, enabling people to enjoy their local community pub’s beer garden in the summer sun. The trade association estimates that there are some 27,000 pubs across the UK with beer gardens – more than half of the UK’s 47,000 pubs in total.

There has also been speculation that Government is considering introducing more flexibility for pubs, restaurants and bars to use other outside space including pavements and could also be given permission to sell food and drink from street stalls outside their premises in the coming weeks.

To help steer the reopening of Britain’s pubs, the trade association is also to work in partnership with the Government through its pubs and restaurants taskforce. It will offer its expertise and insights to the taskforce, including through offering assistance with pilot schemes, to help ensure pubs re-open safely for staff and customers and under conditions that are operationally viable.

Tourism businesses including pubs and brewers have also welcomed suggestions of an additional bank holiday in October to “replace” those they have not been able to take full advantage of this month. The Digital, Culture, Media & Sport Parliamentary committee has written to the Government suggesting such a bank holiday, which the BBPA welcomes.

Emma McClarkin, Chief Executive of the British Beer & Pub Association, said:

“This bank holiday weekend would usually bring a much needed boost to our sector – as many as 10 million extra pints could have been sold in pubs. With such good weather, Brits would normally flock to their local pub beer garden to make the most of the sunshine.

“The FA Cup Final, which would have taken place this weekend, would have boosted pub beer sales by 2 million pints on Saturday alone.

“We’re all looking forward to pubs re-opening so we can catch-up with friends, families and neighbours over a beer once we are through this crisis. Those pubs with beer gardens and outside terraces are best placed to meet social distancing restrictions to open from July 4th.

“We are working with Government to consider all the possible options for our nations pubs to reopen safely and viably as soon as is possible.

“We welcome the idea of an additional bank holiday in October and support any Government help to boost the speed of recovery of pubs and breweries.”

Further Reading