Sour Grapes, hard cheese and pub prices

There has been a fairly unequivocal “hard cheese” response from the public to vintners’ claims that the pub trade is terminally ill in the present climate.

To a man they point to price-gouging by the publicans as being the reason they have no sympathy for the trade. Whether justly or otherwise, the prices in the pub versus the supermarket off-licence and the prices that were being charged – such as €1 for a glass of tap water or over €8 for a spirit plus mixer and over €6 a pint by some Dublin outlets at the height of the Celtic Tiger’s roar – were among the reasons given for this Pyrrhic victory by the consumer.

The Irish Times’ Pricewatch column recently asked people on Twitter to give their view on the current crisis in the trade and received nearly 100 responses in double-quick time (or less than two hours):

“Supermarkets, hotels and restaurants have all halved their prices,” commented James Campbell, for example, “It’s time for the VFI to stop the blame game and reduce prices.”

Paul put Ireland’s pubs in the same league as its taxis who “milked it when times were good, at our expense,” so they’re “undeserving of pity now”.

Chris Murphy described Irish pubs simply as a rip-off. ”At least €2.50 for 200ml of Coke or a mixer! They need to adjust their pricing,” he emphasised.

Kieran Sammon enjoys a night out but the cost is prohibitive, he commented. “I was charged €5.80 for a pint of Cidona at the weekend. Hardly good value. Time they adapted or closed.”

Once again the price of soft drinks in particular raises the hackles highest among consumers. If publicans want to encourage families into their premises, they’d have to realise that a small bottle of Coke that’s consumed by the nipper in one ‘swalley’ and that takes €2.75 out of Dad or Mum’s pocket is not going to make the publican any friends (or repeat customers) among the parenting fraternity.

Give the consumer something they can live with price-wise and they’ll return the gesture.

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