A new report from the Drinks Industry Group of Ireland (DIGI) has shown a 20% decline in the number of Louth pubs doing business since 2005.
The Irish Pub: Stopping the Decline report, based on the group’s analysis of Revenue license data and including an economic and social analysis by Dublin City University (DCU) Associate Professor Emeritus and economist Anthony Foley, shows a 21.2% decline nationally in the number of pubs in Ireland from 2005 to 2021.
According to the analysis, Foley suggests there is likely to be a negative social impact arising from the trend and extent of closures, especially in rural and remote areas in Ireland.
Foley cites a number of reasons for the decline including non-replacement of pub operators on retirement or death, low levels of business volume and economic sustainability, regulatory changes such as tighter drink driving laws and enforcement allied with weak or non-existent public transport and population change and distribution, among others.
Paul Clancy, DIGI member and CEO of the Vintners Federation of Ireland, described the report as ‘alarming.’
“1,829 rural pub closures represent businesses that provide jobs, a hub in the local community for socialising and community integration and a cultural centrewhich has long been documented as among the main attractions for tourists visiting Ireland.
"The pace of decline increased as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic which saw the drinks and hospitality industry suffer the worst of all, with one of the longest lockdowns recorded globally.
“Considering this sharp decline and trend we’re witnessing, we need to monitor this industry carefully and ensure all the necessary supports are in place to contribute to stopping this trend.
"Our high alcohol excise tax is a cost and slows the growth of these businesses and impacts their day-to-day operations and bottom line.
"Exasperated currently with inflation and the cost of living. We are calling on the Government to reduce excise tax to support the industry with meaningful measures that will be felt immediately and reduce costs over night fortens of thousands of business owners.”
Commenting today, Kathryn D’Arcy, recently appointed Chair of DIGI and Communications and Corporate Affairs Director at Irish Distillers said:
“The Irish pub has been in a steady decline for years, and these stark figures once again highlight the need to secure the sustainable future of our pubs.
"Central to this is introducing policy measures which can make both an immediate difference and a long-term impact in terms of delivering sustainable policy to support these businesses.
DIGI is seeking a reduction in Ireland’s high excise tax rate which would deliver on this.”
Commenting on DIGI’s report, economist and Associate Professor Emeritus, DCU Anthony Foley notes that:
“There is likely to be a negative social impact arising from the closure of the 1,829 public houses between 2005 and 2021.
"Pubs serve as a vital social outlet for many people, particularly in rural Ireland. With people living there faced by the spectre of rural decline, preserving the cultural heritage of the Irish pub in Ireland is arguably a progressive course of action.
"Economic and business sustainability is one of the several determining factors of closures of small public houses.
"Addressing high excise would have a positive effect on the commercial sustainability of small public houses and would be a strong element in the wider policy strategy to support rural areas. It is a measure which is completely within the scope of Government.”
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