Almost from the beginning, CAMRA has recognised the importance of pubs to cask ale.
It is therefore alarming that the total number of pubs in the UK fell from 67,800 in 1982 to 51,900 in 2014. Twenty seven pubs a week are currently lost in the UK. As the main outlets for draught beer, pubs are central to CAMRA’s promotion of real ale.
Brewers own around a fifth of all pubs. A third are owned by pub companies, known as pubcos, and just under a half are independent free houses. The introduction of a code to regulate the pubcos and an adjudicator to oversee it, with licensees of the largest pubcos being able to opt for a free-of-tie lease, may change the ownership of many pubs, but may lead to closures as well.
Although the sale of beer is divided almost equally between the on-trade and off-trade, beer accounts for seven out of 10 drinks sold in pubs. Beer is more important to pubs than wine or spirits and pubs are facing stiff competition for fewer drinkers. On-trade alcohol consumption has fallen by 36 per cent since 2000, but off-trade sales have increased by 17 per cent in the same period. This is linked to wider social trends, such as the rise in internet-based on-demand home entertainment.