COVID-19 has played havoc with UK pubs and bars. For generations and generations in the UK, people meeting at the local tavern was the traditional and perhaps the original social media. You could go there on your own, with family, with friends, or to meet friends. There you enjoyed social gatherings, banter, good conversation, music, opinions, had fun, and caught up on the local and national news.
Pubs and bars are still great places to socialize. But the COVID-19 outbreak has devastated this tradition. People avoid them now, causing millions of dollars in losses to business owners. However, a few establishment owners have been creative about their marketing tactics, finding new ways to tap revenues and beat the trend.
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Marketing to beat COVID-19 blues
A bar in Stirchley, Birmingham, voted as one of the best in the world, decided that if the customers weren’t coming to them, they would go to the customers. The bar started selling pre-mixed cocktails in bottles, delivered right to the customer’s home. Soon, orders started flowing in and the establishment found that the business model was profitable enough to help them ride out the pandemic.
“We do two bottle sizes, available in four serves and six serves and with a 7-14 day shelf life… It’s hard to be stuck in the house when everyone is missing their favourite food and drink, and it’s a nice treat to get this delivered to your door… This way we have revenue coming through the business — to retain our staff and to keep up with payments that we either can’t defer or would prefer not to defer,” co-owner Katie Rouse said to BirminghamLive.
The Angel & Crown pub in East London is open for business — except that people do not gather at the pub for drinks. Instead, customers bring their bottles, line up following social distance rules, and collect the beer so that they can take it back home. Some people even bring plastic milk bottles to stock up on beer. The pub has also started home deliveries, which is in line with the overall trend of other pubs in the UK. According to the Campaign for Real Ale, over 2,000 pubs, cideries, and breweries are offering collection and delivery services.
For wine connoisseurs, Loki Wine is holding virtual wine and cheese tasting sessions. Hosted by two wine experts and a cheese expert, the sessions are scheduled for every Saturday. Each session will cover a selection of different cheeses and wines. Customers can select the wine and cheese online, and have it delivered to their homes prior to the session.
Once the appointed day arrives, customers can follow the instructions of the experts on how to enhance the taste of their wine and cheese in the best possible way. According to Phil, owner of Loki Wine, the program is a huge success. Couples with children comment that they are now able to enjoy a great evening together without having to leave their kids at home with a babysitter.
Mass closures on the way
According to astonishing estimates, almost 19,000 pubs in the UK may never open again even after the COVID-19 pandemic is over. The British Beer & Pub Association (BBPA) warns that about 40 percent of pubs won’t last beyond next September unless they get better financial support from the government. Emma Mc Clarkin, head of the British Beer and Pub Association, believes that the COVID-19 lockdown has been the most “devastating moment” in the history of the industry.
She points out that there are pubs that have survived two World Wars but are now worried about whether they will survive the pandemic. With many pubs seeing little or no business at all, millions of casks of beer are lying unused in cellars throughout the UK. Some believe that almost 70 million pints of beer will perish due to the lockdown. A few pubs are thinking of giving massive discounts for take-outs to avoid wasting their stocks completely.