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Pub lovers have been warned that this year’s Christmas trips to the boozer will be severely affected by pressures facing the industry, a beer chief has warned.
Tom Stainer, the Cheif Executive of CAMRA, explained that punters will likely be 'surprised' by which pubs will be shut over the Christmas period.
He warned even pubs that appeared to be doing well might greet drinkers with bolted doors over the peak festive period.
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Tom warned that this would also have knock-on implications for the pubs that did stay open, meaning it would be more difficult to get a booking.
“There’s a good likelihood,” he said, “that not every pub you expect to be open over Christmas is going to be open.”
Tom added: "I'm hearing that pretty successful, vibrant businesses are considering their options. Because as successful as they are, they have margins and as soon as those margins eroded, you know they are at risk."
He explained that the reasons for this was that even pubs that are doing well may be forced to go into “hibernation” as they ride out tough months of high energy bills and a removal of the alcohol duty freeze put in place by the outgoing Liz Truss government.
Tom predicted most “pubs having to cover increased costs and with the alcohol duty reversal,” in their bid to stay afloat.
He explained there wasn’t a one-size-fits-all approach when it came to Christmas closures: “It's either permanently or they’ll have to go into hibernation in the hope that things are better next year.”
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Despite the drastic prospect of healthy pubs shutting down temporarily, he said even that was a mark of some of the more fortunate boozers.
“The ones who can go into hibernation at least have a little bit of a financial buffer because they can afford to continue paying rent and just say ‘we're gonna shut the doors. We won't pay the staff and or pay the suppliers but we think we can survive to reopen again.’
“If you're really struggling you're not going to have the option because you're not going to be able to afford to shut completely and have just got to hope that you get through.”
He added: "So I don't think it's just going to be the one that you said 'said oh well, it's on its last legs.'
"I think in some cases it may be the one that you think that's a really good pub, it's done really well. I really enjoy going there.
Tom explained that, for drinkers, the impact was likely a vastly reduced number of pubs for people to head to on cold Christmas nights.
“It could really reduce the choice that we have as consumers about where you go over December over Christmas and at the moment with the way things are looking, go into the pub, enjoying some time with your community, with your friends with your family.
He added that people will ask: "'Why is it not taking Christmas bookings?'" adding, "people are really going to start feeling the loss of these pubs."
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