The latest figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS), released earlier this week, revealed the average cost of a pint of draught lager in a pub increased 12.1% between August 2022 and August 2023, from £4.12 to £4.65. Month-on-month prices jumped 0.8%, up from £4.58 in July this year.
Draught bitter saw an 8.8% increase during this period, with the average cost of a pint of bitter in a pub rising from £3.53 in August 2022 to £3.84 in August 2023. Month-on-month prices rose 0.5%, up from £3.82 in July this year.
To help operators, brewers and suppliers alike bring prices down, trade bodies and publicans from across the sector have urged the Government to tackle inflation and business rates as well as “sky-high” energy and duty costs to stem the cost-of-living crisis.
Licensee of the Tamworth Tap, Staffordshire, George Greenway said: “Unfortunately, costs are just that high we can't absorb them, and they’re being passed down.
“Energy and the general cost of materials as well as hourly rates for staff [are] the three ingredients [pushing] the cost of beer.
“I can't see [how] overheads can go any higher than they have done, or there can't be as much of a percentage increase as we've experienced in the past 12 months. It’s got to steady.
“Tackling inflation and reducing beer duty would mean we would see [better] deals in the marketplace and that could balance things out for the cost of a pint.”
A recent poll by The Morning Advertiser found 82% of pubs were selling pints of lager for more than £4, with 40% charging £4 to £4.99 at their pub.
Just over a third (32%) of respondents charged £5 to £5.99, and 9% sold pints of lager for £6 to £6.99 while 16% of the 528 respondents sold pints for £3 to £3.99, and only 2% charged £2 to £2.99. 1% said they sold pints of lager for £7 to £7.99.
The Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA) national chairman Nik Antona said the figures from ONS show how much households will “struggle” to afford a pint at a pub with the cost-of-living crisis “severely impacting” the public’s ability to “support their much-loved locals”.
He continued: “The continual rise of beer prices is concerning but unfortunately not surprising as our locals continue to face spiralling costs, sky high energy bills and unfair business rates.
"If we are to save more of our beloved pubs and social clubs from being lost then we desperately need the Chancellor to use the Autumn Statement in November to extend help for licensees"
“Despite doing everything they can, pubs and the breweries who serve them have had no choice to increase prices so simply survive. The only alternative would be to close their doors for good.”
According to CAMRA, more than 750 pubs shut in the first six months of this year, equivalent to 30 pubs a week.
“This maelstrom of simultaneous crises emphasises the perfect storm that is battering the licensed trade and risks the closure of many more community hubs and local businesses.
“If we are to save more of our beloved pubs and social clubs from being lost then we desperately need the Chancellor to use the Autumn Statement in November to extend help for licensees in England with business rates which is due to end in April next year – and give devolved Governments money to do the same”, Antona added.
The CAMRA national chair also called on Governments across the UK to “reform and replace” the “deeply unfair” business rates systems to give pubs a “fighting chance of surviving and thriving”.
Further analysis of the data from ONS showed the average cost of a pint of lager had risen by 35p from January to July 2023 alone, while draught pint prices had increased by 38% and 33% in the lager and bitter categories over the last decade.
Recent data from financial experts Finder UK also found a pint of beer in the UK was 127% more expensive than the worldwide average cost while figures from CAMRA released last month, showed almost half of Brits thought a pint in a pub was “unaffordable”.
Moreover, analysis of Government data by the British Beer & Pub Association (BBPA) earlier this year revealed 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.
UKHospitality (UKH) chief executive Kate Nicholls stated the data from ONS demonstrated the “enormous cost pressures faced by hospitality operators” and the need for “urgent swift action”.
Nicholls said: “On top of rising costs, more pain is set to come with an almost billion-pound hike in business rates next April.
“Unless the Government wants to lose yet more of the nation’s best loved assets such as local pubs, cafes, bars and restaurants, then it needs to urgently commit to an extension of business rates relief and a freeze in the current multiplier.
“Inaction on business rates will sound the death knell for not just pubs, but other hospitality venues too, and that simply must be avoided at all costs.”