Alcohol-free January leaves pubs high and dry

Dry January in local pubs. Pic: Ninka MBaye

Dry January in local pubs. Pic: Ninka MBaye

Local pubs are feeling the effects of ‘Dry January’, which drew in a record-breaking number of people signing up for an alcohol-free month following the indulgence of Christmas.

The campaign, supported by Public Health England, saw over two million people across the UK heeding health experts advice but the period has proved challenging for pubs, bars and club owners who are dependent on consumers to make ends meet.

Pubs like ‘The Rose’ in New Cross have faced a significant downturn in customers. A spokesperson for the usually packed pub, located on New Cross road, told Eastlondonlines: “Those first few weeks were a lot quieter on weekends which are our biggest trading period.”

Some businesses have taken matters into their own hands, creating unusual menus to try and lessen the financial blow with many now specialising in alcohol-free cocktails. This new business model has proven very successful on the streets of Shoreditch where ‘Redemption’ in Old Street, Shoreditch, one of London’s top alcohol-free bars, has found health conscious alternatives.

Catherine Salway of ‘Redemption’ told ELL: “We are trying to poke fun at our national indulgence that we tend to have and give people space away from temptation, so it’s good to position it in the place where people most like to party.

January is however a notoriously difficult period for one of Britain’s biggest industries, which employs over 1.3 million people.

Martin Caffrey from the Federation of Licensed Victuallers told The Sunday Express: “It really is a nightmare for the licensed trade. We know millions have signed up to go dry in January, but our argument is that as an organisation we promote responsible drinking right through the year. That’s the way people should treat alcohol.”

Deaths linked to liver disease have soared to 16,000 a year since the 1970s in the UK. Chief Medical Officer Dame Sally Davies warned people about the risks involved in abusing the beverage and advised people to decrease their weekly intake.


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