Friday, 26 June 2020

Local Pubs – their views on re-opening

[This press release was produced before the reopening date of July 4th was announced]

Whilst a date for the reopening of pubs continues to be debated, along with safety measures and financial support; CAMRA Norwich & District’s recent survey reveals the views of local publicans.

Finance and staff pay is clearly a big issue for pub owners and operators.  Just over half of respondents reported a deferral, reduction or cancellation of rent during this period, which is extremely positive and a proportion who reported no reductions included non-rent payers.

Over 80% have invested personal funds to support them through this period, with one in five reporting an increase in loans.   One in ten reported raising funds innovatively, for example using a crowdfunding scheme. 

The vast majority, nearly 90%, of respondents reported that ongoing Government support would be extremely important to their pub’s survival.

The survey also asked what measures would be most popular for pubs?  The most popular measure for ease of implementation would be a 1m (3ft) distance between tables, however other respondents reported this to be impossible or difficult to operate and over 60% reported this to have a likely large negative effect on turnover.

Only just over 15% claimed a 2m (6ft) distance would be easy to implement, with over 37% claiming this to be impossible and a similar response was given to proposed screens or partitions between tables.

A cover or minimum charge proved unpopular or impossible to operate and pre-booked tables or a seated table service also proved unpopular due to its likely effect on income.  Of precautions such as temperature check, bar screens or imposing time/drink limits, the screen option was most popular. 

Sadly over 74% reported that reasonable restrictions would likely have 50% or more of an impact on their turnover figures.

One mentioned, ‘We all need to ensure people have confidence in returning to pubs, so all publicans should act responsibly and show the public they are doing what they can to keep safe.’ This is a view shared by other publicans; along with the view that pubs need publicity of any measures, to raise consumer confidence.

Ian Stamp, Chair of Norwich & District CAMRA, offered this comment ‘Publicans are being realistic about measures for reopening, with many able to use or access outdoor areas to increase capacity whilst allowing distancing measures.

‘However, each pub is individual with different challenges, so it is difficult to find a shared view, however we hope these results have given better insight into the views of those at the sharp end of the re-opening debate.’

Positively, the majority of those who responded are offering take-out services, with over 62% offering takeout drinks and over 33% offering takeout food, with some offering deliveries too.

However, Ian Stamp explained this may be misleading as those offering a service currently are also more likely to have responded, though notes many pubs locally have made this positive move.

Ian mentioned it is encouraging that even more wish to operate take-out food services in the future, though fewer anticipate continuing with their beer take-out service after re-opening.

Just under half of pub respondents are using the Brew2You service, though this figure also included those not offering a take-out service.

Customers can receive updated information on take-out options and individual pub re-opening news at which is updated by thousands of CAMRA volunteers and focuses on real ale pubs.