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CAMRA calls for Government action to save pubs

Published:  11 September, 2008

The Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA) is calling on the Government to introduce measures to prevent supermarkets selling alcohol as a loss leader.

The Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA) is calling on the Government to introduce measures to prevent supermarkets selling alcohol as a loss leader.

In response to an announcement this week by the British Beer and Pub Association, which said that 36 pubs are closing every week, the consumer group is urging the Government to introduce minimum pricing to reduce the gap between supermarket and pub prices.

"Cheap beer in supermarkets, often sold at less than the price of bottled water, is killing the British pub", said CAMRA Good Beer Guide 2009 editor, Roger Protz.

"Over 150 pubs a month are closing. The main reason is simple: people are abandoning their locals because they can buy cheap supermarket beer at a fraction of the price charged by pubs."

CAMRA argues that well-run community pubs provide a "perfect environment" for adults to enjoy alcohol responsibly, but as small businesses, they are unable to absorb tax and cost increases and cannot demand the wholesale discounts enjoyed by supermarkets.

Industry statistics show that off-trade beer prices have fallen by 1% in the last year, while pub prices have increased by around 4.4%. Since 2002 off-trade beer prices have fallen by 7% while pub prices have increased by 24%.

As a result of the 10% beer tax increase in this year's Budget, prices in pubs have increased by 4.4% in the last year and the average price of a pint of lager in a pub is now £2.82. In contrast, prices in the off-trade have fallen by a further 1% as a result of huge price promotions. CAMRA says pubs are being targeted by "ruthless" off-trade discounting that is resulting in falling pub visits and record pub closures.

In a recent CAMRA pricing survey, global lager bands were found to be on sale for as little as 57p a pint in the off-trade.

Mr Protz added: "Pubs are regulated licensed premises. Publicans who permit bad behaviour such as heavy drinking will lose their licences. Supermarkets face no such restraints. They have no idea what happens to cheap alcohol once it leaves their stores. In too many cases, it's passed on to under-age drinkers. It's the supermarkets, not pubs, that encourage binge drinking, with their massively discounted sales of alcohol.

"One solution is for England and Wales to follow the example of the Scottish government and consider a minimum pricing policy for alcohol sold in the off-trade. Urgent action is needed to help save that great British institution."

CAMRA has also launched the 36th edition of its annual Good Beer Guide, featuring the best 4,500 real ale pubs in Britain according to CAMRA membership. To celebrate the launch, CAMRA has announced 16 CAMRA Regional Pubs of the Year winners. The National Pub of the Year winner will be judged from the final 16 in February 2009.