Friday 1 July 2016

Unfair to Innkeepers

I’ve another example of the past as a foreign country for you. In relation to pubs and shops.

For the younger amongst you, I’ll point out that off-licences didn’t use to be as numerous as they are now. And that pretty much 100% of pubs sold drinks to be consumed off the premises. So they were to some extent in direct competition with shops, especially for beer sales.

Minchinhampton Off Licence Refused
OPPOSED by the local innkeepers whose view was that it represented unfair competition, an application made to the Nailsworth Licensing Justices yesterday Mr. Frederick John Jarman, on behalf of World's Stores Ltd., Market-place, Henley-on-Thames, for an off-licence to sell bottled beer at Walker's Stores, Minchinhampton, was refused.

Mr. Conway Clifford (briefed by Messrs. Winterbotham, Ball and Gadsden) represented the applicant and he suggested that as the shop had an off-licence to sell wines and spirits it would be odd If they were not allowed also to sell bottled beer and cider.

Mrs. C. G. Tombs, the manageress of the shop, said there was a demand from customers for beer and cider.

Mr. Clifford, who said there were 15 customers in Court who were prepared to support the application, called three of them, —Mrs. Winifred Howell, High-st., Minchinhampton; Mrs. Ivy Florence Rimes, Avening, and Mrs. Lilian Fletcher, Gatcombe, Minchinhampton who agreed it would be a convenience if the licence were granted.

The application was opposed by Mr. J. Lapage Norris, who appeared for the Stroud and District Licensed Victuallers Association and the Minchinhampton innkeepers. The needs of the district, he said, were adequately met by the existing licensed houses and he suggested that it would be unfair for the local innkeepers to be subjected to competition from a big combine.

Mr. Harold Bird, secretary of the Licensed Victuallers Association said there were seven Inns within 100 yards of Walkers Stores; supplies were adequate and the licensees were prepared, if necessary, to deliver.

Mr. H. T. Farmer, licensee of the Salutation Inn said supplies of beer were in excess of demand and innkeepers were to-day finding it difficult to sell as much as the limited war-time allocations.

A letter was read from the Clerk of the Minchinhampton Parish Council intimating that the Council was not in favour of the application and Supt. W. Hart said in the opinion of the police Minchinhampton was well catered for at the present time.

Refusing to grant the application, the Chairman (Mr. G. W. Powell) said the Court considered a case had not been made out.”
Gloucester Citizen - Friday 10 February 1950, page 6.

Seven pubs within 100 yards? There doesn’t seem to be a single pub in Minchinhampton today.

During the war, with brewers limited in the amount of beer they were allowed to brew, they effectively rationed the amount of beer a pub could get. But with a fall in beer sales after the war ended, the shortage of beer disappeared. Meaning pubs were selling quite a bit less beer than they had before 1939. At that level of sales some pubs were undoubtedly struggling to turn a profit.

Here are some numbers to show how many more off-licences there are now than in the 1950’s:

Licences in England and Wales 1945 - 2004
Date  Pub licences Off Licences  total % off licences
1945 72,960 21,599 94,559 22.84%
1946 73,026 21,693 94,719 22.90%
1947 73,232 21,848 95,080 22.98%
1948 75,384 22,025 97,409 22.61%
1949 73,422 22,218 95,640 23.23%
1950 73,483 23,532 97,015 24.26%
1951 73,421 23,669 97,090 24.38%
1952 73,368 23,717 97,085 24.43%
1953 73,220 23,810 97,030 24.54%
1954 72,973 23,863 96,836 24.64%
1955 71,244 23,548 94,792 24.84%
1956 70,875 23,531 94,406 24.93%
1957 70,353 23,517 93,870 25.05%
1958 69,913 23,530 93,443 25.18%
1959 69,455 23,571 93,026 25.34%
1960 69,184 23,670 92,854 25.49%
1991 74,299 47,944 122,243 39.22%
1992 74,053 46,063 120,116 38.35%
1994 75,522 47,735 123,257 38.73%
1995 75,392 45,986 121,378 37.89%
1997 78,098 47,753 125,851 37.94%
1998 77,934 45,425 123,359 36.82%
2000 77,876 45,450 123,326 36.85%
2001 78,540 44,696 123,236 36.27%
2003 81,933 47,478 129,411 36.69%
2004 81,455 46,582 128,037 36.38%
Brewers' Almanack 1971, page 83.
2011 Statistical Handbook of the BBPA, page 74

At one time off-licences had been almost as difficult to obtain as a pub licence. When it was made easier, the number of off-licences increased significantly, as you can see in the table.

Nowadays, of course, it’s impossible for a pub to compete with supermarkets for off sales. Which is why pub off-licence departments have disappeared.

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