Pint in a pub becoming a 'luxury' as lager prices rise 38% in 10 years

By Rebecca Weller

- Last updated on GMT

Perfect storm: the cost of a pint of lager has risen 38% since July 2013 (Credit:Getty/miodrag ignjatovic)
Perfect storm: the cost of a pint of lager has risen 38% since July 2013 (Credit:Getty/miodrag ignjatovic)

Related tags Beer Finance Camra

The price of draught lager has risen by 38% over the past ten years and could mean a pint in a pub will soon become a “luxury” for many consumers.

According to data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS), the average cost of a pint of draught lager in a pub was £3.30 in July 2013 but as of July this year was estimated to be £4.58, an increase of £1.28 (38%).

The biggest year-on-year (YOY) upswing occurred between July 2022 and 2023, when lager prices saw an 11% (49p) hike, up from £4.09, at a time when the sector was still suffering from the aftereffects of the pandemic and Brexit.

Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA) national chairman Nik Antona said: "The increase of beer prices over the past decade, as shown by the ONS data, soon threatens to render a pint of real ale, cider or perry in your local a luxury.

“Research commissioned by CAMRA found only 1 in 10 Brits say a pint is affordable​, limiting consumers ability to support pubs, social clubs, and brewers.

“The last few years in particular have been an almighty struggle, with the licensed trade fighting on multiple fronts to simply survive.

Age of uncertainty 

“Simultaneous economic crises are suffocating hardworking businesses all over the UK.”

The price of a pint of lager rose by 8% between January and July​ alone this year, with the sharpest hike in 2023 from January to February, when costs increased by 5%.

Draught bitter costs also saw double-digit growth during the ten-year period, rising from £2.87 in July 2013 to £3.82 in July this year, an increase of 33% (95p).

For bitter, the biggest year-on-year rise was between July 2021 and July 2022, where pries saw a 9% uptick from £3.22 to £3.52.  

"The pandemic was an age of uncertainty and financial insecurity, and the pub and brewing industries are still reeling in its economic aftereffects.

“The licensed trade is now being hit by the ever-mounting cost-of-business crisis, with rising costs of goods and employing staff, and subsequent Government aid with energy bills being cut.  

"It is nothing short of a perfect storm that will get worse, washing away much-loved community hubs”

"In tandem, loyal customers who are desperate to support their local are struggling to afford to do so through the cost-of-living crisis.

“Mix all these factors together and it is nothing short of a perfect storm that will get worse, washing away much-loved community hubs”, Antona continued.

Data from Finder UK earlier this year revealed a pint of beer in the UK was 127% more expensive​ than the worldwide average.

The financial experts compiled the figures using data from cost-of-living sites Expatistan and Numbeo to estimate the average prices of beer in the most populated cities in 166 countries.

According to the survey, the cost of a pint in the UK was estimated to be £5.90 as of June this year, which is 127% higher and “significantly more expensive” than the global average of £2.60.

In addition, analysis of Government data by the British Beer & Pub Association (BBPA) in May this year showed beer duty on a pint in the UK​​ was more than Germany, Spain, Czechia, Portugal, Austria and Belgium all put together, at 54.2p per 5% ABV pint.

BBPA​ chief executive Emma McClarkin said: “A pint should be affordable for everyone but the last few years we’ve seen prices increase even though brewers and pubs are doing the best they can to absorb costs and protect customers.

“The cost of everything in our supply chain is soaring around us, whether it’s key ingredients, energy or upcoming increases in duty, businesses are having to make tough decisions to remain viable.”

Grossly unfair 

On top of this, pubs across the country have battled sky-high inflation​, rail strikes​ and interest rates as well as the “biggest” changes to alcohol duty in 140 years, according to HMRC, which came into effect on 1 August this year.

The industry also saw some 30 pubs a week close​ across the first six months of 2023, with figures from CAMRA showing 772 were classed as long-term closed in H1 while 95 were converted or demolished.

Last year was also the worst year on record for brewery closures​ according to figures from ONS. However, the total number of breweries in the UK had risen in the second quarter of this year.

Antona added the culmination of all the changes and challenges faced by the sector in recent years means pubs, social clubs and taprooms need support from Government “more now than ever” if they are to “survive and thrive”.

He said: “Business rate relief schemes currently in place in England are due to end in 2024, so the Government needs to act soon.

“Pubs pay a grossly unfair portion of the total business rates bill, and proper reform is the only permanent fix to the issue.

“This will be a main focus for us when we launch our campaigning ahead of an expected Autumn fiscal event.”  

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