Beer Blog

Do the Majority of Britons really find the price of a pint unaffordable?


CAMRA’s latest press release tells us,’ (the) Majority of Britons find the price of a pint unaffordable.’

Do they? Really?

I’d best nail my colours to the mast; I broadly agree with the sentiment and I’m 100% behind the campaign to save pubs, but do people really find a pint of beer unaffordable OR do people carefully choose exactly what they do with their disposable income?

Lets deal with those with no disposable income first. No, they can’t afford a pint, nor many other things, but that is an entirely different (and important) issue and for the sake of argument, I’m going to discount this unfortunate cohort who would appear to be within the 11% surveyed who said a pint was ‘very unaffordable’.

The people I’m thinking about are the sizeable number of people who have a finite budget and competing financial demands; principally the essentials of food, shelter, clothing and essential travel. Many of these people do have ‘some’ disposable income and we can assume they are represented in the YouGov survey as the 44% who said a pint was ‘very affordable’ (2%), ‘fairly affordable’ (16%) and ‘about right’ (26%).

Although 44% of people think the price of a pint is acceptable to differing degrees, we have to remember that a similar number 45% of those surveyed, thought a pint was ‘fairly unaffordable’; presumably those with a very limited disposable income.

Across this 89% of people, I think there are many who are making the choice between going out for a pint and other things.

Simple choices like; Sunday afternoon at the local pub with the family or a full day out at the beach with sandwiches and maybe an ice cream and a few bob on the amusements. I reckon it’s about 50 miles from our house to Scarbro’, so the biggest cost of the day is fuel.

Round here, the price of the first round of say, a pint, glass of prosecco, three soft drinks and a few snacks would just about cover the fuel costs of a return journey to the seaside. The second round would more than pay for the picnic and sundries and we’ve only been in the pub for about an hour, max.

Okay, but what if you really fancy a drink? Do you meet up with your friends in the pub? Remember there’s four adults and maybe five kids or more now, so the round is easily into the £20 bracket.

I know lets have a BBQ, we’ve got to have meal anyway and the cost of the first round will buy more than enough cheap supermarket beer to keep us going all afternoon, the cost of the second round will buy 4 bottles of prosecco – sorted.

They had such a good time their friends have invited them round for the return fixture next weekend. In the meantime they are all going to the pictures with the kids on Wednesday night – couldn’t have done that if they’d blown the best part of a ton in the pub on Sunday afternoon.

Faced with a choice what would you do?

16 replies »

  1. Yes, as I’ve often argued, the causes of the decline of pubs are much wider and more complex than price alone. If you really want a cheap pint, you can always go to Spoons or Sam’s, which are often not much more than half the price of other pubs. And how many people would really drink significantly more beer in pubs (or indeed any more at all) if a pint was 50p cheaper?

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Agree with post and Mudgie’s comment.

    NB That article on relative price of a pint is disingenuous. Easy to drink well (OK, warm beer) for close to £4 a pint in “London” without touching Spoons and Sam Smiths. Equally, plenty of cask for £3 around the country, not just Carlisle. You could have a very good night out on the Isle of Man for a tenner (3 pints and a packet of crisps plus free live music).


      • Pubgoers are not a homogenous population. Some people who have well-paid jobs and enjoy one or two “pub nights” a week won’t be at all price-conscious, whereas others who have more limited means or spend a lot more time in pubs will be. It’s clear in town and city centres that there is a substantial market for the value proposition offered by Spoons and Sam’s, alongside people who are willing to pay twice as much in smart bars. In a village pub, 50p either way on a pint probably makes little or no difference.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Living in the south east £4.00 a pint is the norm, and I am happy to pay that and more to drink in a proper pub(or craft bar or Micro Pub) rather than drink cheaper in a Spoons, I.m not a fan of OBB but like their pubs and keg Extra Stout, not enough to drink in a Sams pub exclusively to save a few quid.
    That said I’m more or less skint at the end of the month!


  4. As for “those with no disposable income” who “can’t afford a pint” maybe some of them consider using a pub as a basic human right, which could be difficult to argue against, and therefore, although we would strongly disapprove, resort to selling shoplifted goods so that they can enjoy the occasional pint with friends in their local.


  5. As you allude in the article it is not really the price of beer but the price of pub going which is prohibitive. It started in the 80s when the drink driving campaign started to have an effect. Pubs cynically put up the price of soft drinks and lemonade. Nowadays it is £1.50 plus for ‘draught’ Coca Cola – syrup with fizzy water – £5 for a glass of house wine, £6 for Prosecco. They taste just the same at home (the Coca Cola probably better if you like that muck) so the beer drinker falls in line and grabs a few well promoted beers from the supermarket. He’d rather be in the pub but eventually the habit is broken and another pub is on the slope to closure.


  6. Similarly the trend is to ‘family entertainment’ and group entertainment. The individual who quietly slips out for a few pints on Sunday lunch (or whenever) tend to be in the minority these days and a trip to the pub is undertaken with partner and (if there are any) children, hence the cost is ramped up. The lone drinker in a pub tends to be male and 50 + these days, unless it’s straight after work which is still socially acceptable.


  7. Yes, indeed I find that a trip to the pub is often undertaken with wife and daughter, hence the cost is ramped up as they drink soft drinks the price of which has indeed been “cynically put up”.
    But I do still occasionally manage to be that “lone drinker in a pub”, the “male and 50 +” who ends up paying anything between £2 ( Sam Smiths ) and £5 ( Whitelocks ) although I must admit that, being on a meagre pension, those new “craft keg” beers, of which I’ve heard some good reports, are beyond my price range..


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