Pre-loading not just price driven, says new study

By Gurjit Degun

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Young people Policy Drink Alcoholic beverage

Young people: a new study has found that they pre-load because do not feel comfortable in pubs
Young people: a new study has found that they pre-load because do not feel comfortable in pubs
Alcohol policies will continue to fail to impact 80% of young people until the pub trade and policy makers understand the reasons behind pre-loading.

That’s the findings from a new survey into why 18 to 23-year-olds prefer to drink at home before going to clubs and bars.

The study of 20 young people found that although it is cheaper to buy alcohol in the off-trade, there are further reasons for pre-loading. Many do not feel safe in the night-time economy (NTE) and prefer the safety that drinking with people known to them brings, the research explained.

Some respondents said that when drinking at home “there’s no randoms trying to edge into the group”, another said that there is not the same atmosphere in pubs, and one even went as far to say he did not like pubs.

Accommodate young drinkers

Commissioned by Devon & Cornwall Police and Plymouth City Council, the report’s authors Adrian Barton and Kerryn Husk of Plymouth University wrote: “It would appear that those charged with designing pubs and clubs fail to either understand or accommodate the needs of young drinkers with the result that they prefer to drink at home in spaces which can provide the environment required for early evening drinking.”

The young people questioned also said they do not feel safe in the night-time economy, with one saying he needs large amounts of alcohol to face the “chaos”.

“Ironically, many interviewed saw the home part as the safest, yet consumed alcohol in a way and in quantities which are anything but safe,” said the report.

Barton explained that there were no natural breaks when drinking at home, compared with people going out and moving on to different pubs and bars.

Cultural shift

Barton and Husk added: “In our minds, pre-loading is a significant cultural shift. At present, policy makers’ understanding of the why and how of this practice is limited. As a result, alcohol policies, which have improved markedly in the past decade, are failing to understand the significance of pre-loading due to a partial understanding and accompanying over-emphasis on seeing pre-loading as only being a result of economics.

“Until policy makers and those leading the NTE see pre-loading as a significant cultural shift among young people within which unsafe drinking practices flourish, our alcohol policies will continue to fail to impact on as much as 80% of some young people’s alcohol intake.”

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