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Mixed opinions on New Year's Eve

By Wells Journal  |  Posted: January 10, 2013

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The coming of the year 2013 may have looked unremarkable, with the Olympics and Jubilee over and more rain and austerity to look forward to.

Possibly not worth going out to celebrate.

Fourteen pubs across mid-Somerset were contacted to find out how busy they were this New Year's Eve and over the festive season. Landlords or bar staff were asked for their views about how it had gone.

A night when publicans would have been hoping for a boost in trade turned out to be slightly worse than previous years. Some landlords reported a busy night, others said it was quiet.

Matilda Briggs of the Mitre, Glastonbury, said: "Not bad but not brilliant – better than a normal week but not as good as you'd have thought it would be."

One establishment did not open up due to lack of trade and one closed early because it was not worth staying open.

Of the landlords who opened to the public most put on some entertainment be it live music, a disco or a fancy dress night. Where landlords were able to compare, five said trade was about the same as previous years, one said better, two slightly worse and one worse.

Asked about people's drinking habits the clear picture coming from landlords is that people are drinking less than they used to because they have less money. Ian Jarmaine of The Swan, Shepton Mallet, said this decline is not new and started with the credit crunch and the collapse of the sub-prime mortgage market.

There was a feeling New Year's Eve was an unpredictable night and it could go either way for a pub. Several landlords suggested people preferred to stay in this year. Steve Wilson of The King's Head, Wells, said: "New Year's Eve was always a random one anyway.

"I think this year a lot of people decided to party at home."

Looking at the whole festive period, some reported better than expected custom, others not as good.

Landlords saw a variety of factors affecting trade: the weather, the economy, transport, and the days Christmas and new year fell on.

The ongoing challenges of changing attitudes to drink, rising government duty, supermarkets, and price rises were mentioned too. Landlords acknowledged loyalty of customers was vital.

Huw Davies of The Riverside Inn, Cheddar said: "Other pubs in Cheddar have said everyone had a reasonable night with good movement between pubs so we all got a share."

Jeremy Hill

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