We are constantly hearing about the high volumes of pubs which are closing. Obviously the economic downturn or whatever we are calling it this week is not helping, but other excuses such as the smoking ban, the weather and England's recent sporting failures are also blamed. I wonder though whether there are just too many pubs, and it's merely a case of getting to a more realistic number and that 'survival of the fittest' is happening.
Closing pubs is far from a new phenomenon. When I first moved to Northampton, and was old enough to realise what a pub is, there was one on every other corner on the Wellingborough Road which is one of the main drags into town. Now there are about three quarters that number.
Similarly, the village I moved to at the age of ten or eleven had three pubs. It now has two; once upon a time it had five or six.
It's often a shame when a pub closes; more so when it's the only pub in a village, but there's always a reason for it beyond those stated at the start of this piece. With enough regular loyal custom the pub could survive. But you need to know your customers, and give them what they want and do it well.
There is a place out there for all types of pubs; be they theme bar type pubs, community locals, rough estate pubs, food pubs, real ale pubs and so on. But they have to know what they are trying to do, and focus. I suspect most of the pubs closing down are what I now refer to as "Woolworths Pubs". That is a pub which tries to be all things, and doesn't do any of them particularly well. A little bit more specialism in the pub world may be exactly what is needed.