Sector 'traversing a punishing landscape' as pint prices soar

By Rebecca Weller

- Last updated on GMT

Upward pressure: a pint in a pub could be rendered a luxury as prices continue to rise (Credit:Getty/	agrobacter)
Upward pressure: a pint in a pub could be rendered a luxury as prices continue to rise (Credit:Getty/ agrobacter)

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Enjoying a pint in a pub could be “rendered a luxury” as the cost of doing business continues to put upward pressure on prices.

Figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS), released on Wednesday 20 March, revealed the cost of a pint of lager in pubs saw a 5.6% uptick in the year to February 2024, new figures have revealed.

According to the data the average price of a pint of lager as of February this year was £4.70, up by 5.6% from £4.45 in February 2023.

In addition, analysis of the data by The Morning Advertiser​ showed lager costs had soared by 28.4% against pre-pandemic levels, up from £3.66 in February 2019.

Draught bitter prices also saw increases, with the average price of a pint of bitter hitting £3.86 in February this year, up by 4.3% from £3.70 in February last year.

Punishing economic landscape 

The Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA) national chairman Nik Antona said: “Pubs and consumers will feel the squeeze as the price of a pint continues to climb.
“The escalation of beer prices, as displayed in the recent ONS data, threatens to render a pint in the humble local a luxury.

“Pubs, social clubs and taprooms don’t wish to pass on the high prices to their loyal patrons, but with the costs of goods, energy bills and employing staff at sky high levels, plus the burden of unfair business rates, closing would be the only other choice.

“The pub and brewing industries are traversing over a punishing economic landscape which threatens to wipe them out completely, and the Government’s missed an opportunity to support the sector in the recent Spring Budget announcement.”

Chancellor Jeremy Hunt announced an extension to freeze on alcohol duty in the Spring Budget earlier this month in a bid to “back the great British pub”, ignoring repeated calls for a VAT reduction or business rates reformation for hospitality firms.

No relief 

Voices from across the sector shared their disappointment with the move and raised concerns over the impact it would have at the bar.

Moreover, Beer & Pub Association (BBPA) chief executive Emma McClarkin said while the headline rate of inflation fell in February, it “underplays” the fact the cost of doing business across the beer and pub sector “remains high”.

In addition, McClarkin said the announcement from the Bank of England on Thursday 21 March that interest rates would remain at 5.25% for a fifth consecutive time also offered “no relief”.

She continued: “There is little margin left to absorb the combined effect of high energy bills and the increasing labour costs. These costs are having to be passed through to consumers at the bar.

“Without the Government reducing the cost of doing business for brewers and pubs, it is likely the upward pressure on the price of a pint will only continue with the sector facing a £450m cliff edge when business rates and National Living Wage increases take effect at the start of April.”


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