But are schemes like Go Sober for October and Dry January damaging for pubs, or an opportunity?
By nature any campaign discouraging drinking will set alarm bells ringing for operators, but the Association of Licensed Multiple Retailers has labelled the Go Sober for October campaign an “opportunity, not a threat”, and encouraged its members to utilise the campaign as a chance to showcase diversity and vitality.
“There is an opportunity here to spotlight the great things this sector is achieving in terms of premium soft drinks, artisan coffee and inventive non-alcoholic cocktails,” Nicholls said.
“Pubs and bars are about much more than just alcohol and we have seen a real renaissance in the eating out market over recent years. Customers have a chance to discover everything that we have to offer and we are in a fantastic position to remind them that great nights out in our venues needn’t revolve around alcohol.”
More than 50,000 ‘Sober Heroes’ have raised a total £800,000 so far in a campaign that’s gone ‘from strength to strength’.
The British Beer and Pub Association echoes ALMR’s focus on the importance of soft drinks, urging pubs to always have good no or low-alcohol offers to encourage a wider interest, but doesn’t encourage the approach of cutting out alcohol altogether.
Chief executive Brigid Simmonds said: “I would emphasise sensible drinking, rather than a ‘fasting and bingeing’ approach, and the importance of staying within recommended guidelines.
“There is certainly plenty of evidence that moderate drinking brings health benefits, and beer, as a relatively low-strength form of alcohol is a great way to enjoy sensible drinking – at any month of the year.”
This January operators embraced Try January, which urged experimentation in food and drink at the start of the new year.