Opinion: Don’t drown your sorrows, there are lessons to learn from pubs

Pub bar pint

As another retailer collapses into administration, this time 140-year-old department store business Beales, perhaps store chains can learn lessons from another industry that has been through the mill.

Pubs, like retailers with store estates, have faced pressures such as the punishing cost burden of business rates and changes in consumer behaviour during the recent past. But they are once again opening their doors, rather than closing. 

The past decade has seen many pubs call last orders for the final time. That is now changing and the reversal of fortune – while still at a fragile stage – shows it is possible for traditional consumer businesses to adapt and find new resonance.

New Office for National Statistics data revealed the number of small pubs and bars in the UK rose for the first time in 15 years in 2019, albeit the increase was a marginal 0.4%. Including larger watering holes, the number edged up 0.8%, the first advance in more than a decade.

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