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Will pubs survive the energy crisis?

Greg Devine

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Group of friends clinking beer glasses at a pub

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Times look really bleak in the hospitality sector. Businesses are well and truly in survival mode and pubs are no exception.


Speaking to a friend who works at an independent pub in Sheffield, times look really bleak in the hospitality sector. Cuts are having to be made, thanks to rising energy bills. Businesses are well and truly in survival mode and pubs are no exception.


In a rare grown-up conversation, me and my friends talked about the energy crisis. Whilst, as students, we aren’t really seeing it, with only a £1 increase each to our daily bills, the same can’t be said for our barman pal. His employer’s current £1000 bill is now being pushed to over £3000, which has given the landlords no choice but to make cuts. Those cuts have meant letting go of staff and even cancelling the pub’s Sky Sports subscription.


It’s the Sky Sports subscription that may be the ultimate loss. The pub is situated very close to Sheffield United’s Brammall Lane Stadium, meaning the pub is very much a ‘home pub’ for the Blades. Match days are when the pub makes the most money, as supporters go for a pre-match pint. Watching the early 12:30pm kick off would’ve been the norm for Blades’ fans, but no longer.


When Sheffield United are playing at home, this isn’t so much of an issue. As Sheffield United supporters, watching the earlier game is nice but it’s not a deal breaker. Ultimately, they’re there to see their mates before going to the game.


Away matches, however, are a different ball game.


Sheffield United is quite a big club, especially for the second tier of English football. It means Sky Sports will often show United games on the television. When this happens, the pub can also expect a large turnout of fans wanting to watch the game. Unfortunately, with soaring energy prices, the pub simply cannot afford to pay the cost of Sky’s subscription, meaning they can no longer show any televised football matches. Without this, customers are turning to other pubs who can broadcast the game whilst they enjoy a pint.


Man holding a beer glass around a pub fire pit

Being an independent boozer, the loss of revenue from not having Sky Sports could have a massive knock-on effect. Chains will weather the storm more easily, due to their size, but this truly could spell the end for the local, independent pub. Yes, they could raise their prices, but then customers will go elsewhere for cheaper drinks. They’re in a lose-lose situation. Get rid of Sky and there won’t be as many supporters in their establishment when United play away from home. Raise the price of beer and customers will have to go elsewhere, especially when you consider people are making their own cuts in their expenditure at the moment.


Some of my friend’s colleagues were reluctantly laid off. Being a pub, most of the staff are students. Whilst they may not have families to look after, students still have plenty of bills and expenses to deal with, all whilst being paid less than their older colleagues.


Energy prices will most likely increase further, which is a scary prospect for all business owners up and down the country. As a new PM is on the verge of being announced, some action finally needs to be taken. The economy can’t take any more blows.