VFI Pub calls for ‘urgent and substantive’ energy supports

More than four in ten Irish adults plan fewer visits to hospitality venues for the remainder of 2022, due to cost of living pressures, new research shows.

The data has prompted Vintners’ Federation of Ireland CEO, Paul Clancy, to call for urgent and substantive energy supports for the pub trade in Budget 2023.

He says pubs cannot pass on increases to customers already under financial strain.

The CGA (Curren Goodden Associates) Cost of Living Consumer Pulse Survey, carried out across Ireland and the UK last month, found that 42% of Irish adults plan to visit hospitality venues far less often between now and New Year’s Eve.

The survey comes on the back of sky-rocketing fuel bills for Ireland’s 7,000 heavily energy-reliant pubs and a pandemic which saw the permanent closure of pubs nationwide.

“The survey findings paint a bleak future for the pubs of Ireland, their staff and the communities where they often provide a vital social hub,” said Mr Clancy, whose organisation represents 4,000 publicans.

“With  42% of pub-goers expected to curtail visits due to cost of living pressures, it is vital that Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe provides urgent and substantive energy supports to the pub trade in Budget 2023.

“Pubs cannot pass on increases to customers already under financial strain and colossal energy costs are going to force pubs to close, or reduce their winter opening times.

“Reduced footfall, coupled with an unprecedented rise in energy costs after 22 months of Covid lockdown closures and restrictions, means we are almost certainly looking at the permanent closure of many more pubs.”

While there has been a 21% decline in the number of pubs in Ireland since 2005, according to the Drinks Industry Group of Ireland, research by the University of York and Newcastle Business School has highlighted the significant contribution of the Irish pub to the economy with 50,000 employed and €60.7 million generated in wages.

Across Ireland and the UK, the CGA survey, conducted amongst 1,000 adults who typically visit a hospitality venue every six months, found that 93% of consumers are expecting to spend more on household expenses.

But the survey also found that despite pressures on disposable income, the hospitality industry remains a vital part of consumers’ lives, with 69% agreeing that eating or drinking out it is the treat they most look forward to, with 80% stating satisfaction with the quality of the product and service on offer.