UK recession │ How many pubs and coffee shops will close?

Mr Brown, the UK Prime Minister, has admitted in the PMQ on Wednesday (22 October 2008) that the UK is likely to slide into recession (Q3 and Q4 2008). Consumers will spend less and two UK institutions will suffer, one traditional and one more recent: pub and coffee shop. Both alcohol and coffee are discretionary purchases. True, you may be addicted to alcohol or caffeine therefore their consumption is not discretionary, but pubs and coffee shops are not the sole place where you can get your hands on these substances.

If you want to spend less money, you might not go to the pub or drink a pint fewer than usual, or do the unthinkable and try to get out from buying a round. Otherwise, you can go to the supermarket rather than the pub to buy your fix. In any case, even before this latest gloom, many pubs had been closing, so the next year and beyond will accelerate the demise of this institution. British society and conviviality are no longer centred or evolve around pubs as they have done previously.

Similarly, you might stop drinking coffee and munching sandwiches at coffee shops that have mushroomed over the past few years in the UK. Nowadays, any high street in Britain has a number of coffee chains in close proximity. I never understood how they managed to make money, even in the good fat NICE years. But that will probably change. It’s always possible to make a decent cup of coffee as long as you have a kettle and a cafetière, and buy ground coffee for the price of a fancy latte.

I like both pubs and coffee shops, so I will be saddened by the change in British urban landscape that this recession will bring.