• A third (31%) of pub goers in Yorkshire and the North East say they drink in a pub or a bar at least once a week, compared to a national average of 21%
  • Pub goers rank higher-quality food as the number one reason why they would visit pubs or bars more than they currently do, with 22% choosing this as the most important factor
  • Mintel estimates that total pub turnover reached £22.6 billion in 2014, up from £20.6 billion in 2010, with pub grub largely driving growth in the market.

Despite the shrinkage in size of the pub industry over the past decade, the great British pub remains a quintessential part of the national identity. Today, half (47%) of UK pub visitors agree that pubs are an important part of the British way of life, but new research from Mintel reveals that some parts of the country are particularly frequent pub goers.

Almost a third (31%) of pub goers in Yorkshire and the North East say they drink in a pub or a bar at least once a week, compared to a national average of 21% and just one in six (16%) of those in the South West and Wales (16%). What’s more, 14% in Yorkshire and the North East say that they drink in a pub twice a week or more, compared to a national average of just 8%.

47% of UK pub visitors agree that pubs are an important part of the British way of life

Furthermore, it seems that despite the gastropub revolution, in Yorkshire and the North East they’re keen to keep the public house as a venue for drinking. While posh nosh has been helping to attract people back to pubs over the past few years, just under one in 10 (9%) consumers in Yorkshire and the North East ranked higher quality food as the number one reason that would make them more likely to visit pubs or bars more than they currently do, compared to a national average of almost a quarter (22%) who said the same. Perhaps hinting at a foodier region, three in 10 (29%) pub goers in the South West and Wales ranked higher quality food as the number one reason they would visit pubs more often. Futhermore, one in five (20%) ranked cheaper drinks as the top reason that would make them more likely to visit pubs or bars more often then they currently do.

Chris Wisson, Senior Drinks Analyst at Mintel, said:

“Yorkshire and the North East have particularly strong links to the beer industry, and ale in particular, helping to support category volume sales. Despite the many recent changes to the pub industry, many consumers still prize more traditional features and see it as a place to meet and drink rather than somewhere to dine. Today, pubs have evolved and are now putting a greater emphasis on food to offset volume declines of drinks. That higher-quality food is the most likely factor to entice consumers to boost how often they go to the pub – ahead even of cheaper drinks – underlines the increasing importance of food to the industry.”

Indeed, while many pub goers in Yorkshire and North East are not overly interested in higher quality pub grub, it is this side of industry which is propping up market growth. Mintel estimates that total pub turnover reached £22.6 billion in 2014, up from £20.6 billion in 2010, with catering largely driving growth in the market. Since 2010 alone, pub catering sales have risen by 21% to reach an estimated £7.3 billion in 2014. In comparison, sales of alcoholic drinks have risen by just 5%, to reach an estimated £11.2 billion in 2014.

Mintel’s research shows that the rejuvenation of pub grub is such that over a third (38%) of pub goers now expect pubs to have a high quality food menu, while 54% say they could be encouraged to visit pubs or bars more often in the coming year if they had more appealing food. And when choosing what to order, it’s handmade, local fare which seals the deal. Almost three quarters (72%) of those who have eaten in a pub say they opt for homemade dishes, underlining the importance of these types of meals. Meanwhile, over half (54%) of consumers choose dishes with locally sourced ingredients and 38% pick plates with seasonal ingredients.

“The quality and credibility of pub food has made notable progress over the past five years as they have competed for consumers’ limited leisure spend. However, that ‘higher-quality food’ is the leading enticement for visiting pubs more often suggests that further improvements would still be welcomed. It also underlines how central food has become to the idea of going to the pub and how important it is in many customers’ decision-making process.” Chris adds.

Despite the increasing importance of food, Mintel forecasts that alcoholic drink sales will remain the engine of the pub industry’s turnover. Whilst alcoholic drink sales made up 50% of turnover in 2014, just one in 10 (9%) UK consumers eat in a pub or bar at least once a week, compared to 21% who drink there at least once a week.

And while the food and drink on offer is a key pulling point for consumers, it seems that the pub’s location is also still a pivotal aspect. Three in ten (31%) pub goers claim that location is the most important for them when deciding which pub to visit, rising to 37% of those in Yorkshire and the North East.

“In less urban areas in particular, pubs can be an important community space for residents to meet and socialise. Providing an experience more tailored to the local catchment area, by stocking products from local brewers and farmers for example, can be a good way for landlords to underline their importance and relevance to the community.” Chris concludes.

Press review copies of the Pub Visiting UK 2015 report and interviews with Senior Drinks analyst, Chris Wisson, are available on request from the press office. 

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