Dry January is a popular way of starting the new year after over-indulging during the festive period, but while it has been applauded by health experts, it has sent shockwaves through the licensed trade.
With pubs already closing at a worrying rate of 18 a week, according to Campaign for Real Ale figures, pub bosses fear struggling boozers and breweries cannot cope with such a massive dip in trade.
Sarah John, owner of Swansea’s Boss Brewery and a number of local pubs, said the campaign has had a “big effect” on small businesses and added that some of her venues are “really struggling” because of it.
“I would never advocate people drinking all the time, but it obviously affects business,” John explained.
“Alcohol does serve a purpose for socialisation and reducing loneliness by getting people out to the pub.
“It’s the only industry where people are campaigning to stop sales.”
Britons are, on the whole, drinking less and embracing healthier lifestyles, suggesting that pubs and brewers may need to adapt their offerings in the long term, not just at certain times of the year.
With a huge choice of soft drinks and non-alcohol beers now available, Brigid Simmonds, chief executive of the British Beer & Pub Association, said catering for those who choose not to drink has never been easier.
“We support responsible alcohol consumption all year round, but for those who might wish to abstain in January, there are plenty of reasons to continue to support local pubs,” she said.
“Following significant investment and innovation in the category, for those seeking a new experience, the range of low-alcohol and alcohol-free beers available is increasing.
“So, whether it be standard strength, low strength or alcohol-free, beer is a great way to support your local pub and should be enjoyed all year round.”
The Morning Advertiser reported earlier this month that those taking part in Dry January could actually be doing their health more harm than good.