The era of £6 for a standard pint is coming, expert warns
Two Cokes for ten at a North Coast family restaurant. A gin and tonic and a pint for £20. Two double G&Ts for £25 in a downtown Belfast bar – there are plenty of doomsday stories about drink prices.
nd with prices for a non-premium pint like Guinness, Hophouse and Carlsberg varying from £4.40 to £5.60 – depending on where you dine in central Belfast – it’s feared the £6 barrier will be soon to be crossed in many places.
However, many venues said they were still serving at the prices set after the Covid shutdowns last year despite soaring energy and labor costs.
Pedro Donald, the owner of the Sunflower pub in Belfast, which serves Beamish instead of Guinness, told the Belfast Telegraph: “I’m not raising my prices because I can avoid it at the moment.
“But if the breweries raise my prices, I will have to. However, if my electric bill goes up, that’s my problem, because I pay the bill, not my customers,” said Mr Donald, who also owns The American bar.
He said he was not losing sleep over the impact on his business of the cost of living crisis. “I’ve been through The Troubles, Covid and the recession before. All the drinks in the American are below a five. I’m cheaper than most downtown and that’s because I’m not greedy I ride a bike and I don’t have children.
A pint in The American cost £3.80 before the pandemic, but has been increased by 16% in two stages to £4.40. A pint in the Sunflower, where costs are higher as it is a more central location, now costs £4.80.
While The American serves the cheapest pint among traditional pubs, the bar in the Common Market street restaurant serves one of the most expensive, at £5.60 for Guinness.
A publican in south Belfast said his electricity bill had more than doubled and raising the price of a pint was something he would give serious thought to. “It’s a difficult time for everyone. Electricity is the biggest headache at the moment, and our bill in August was £8,866, up from £3,681.25 a year ago.
“We used less electricity and fewer kilowatt hours and we reduced this consumption considerably. The bill is almost tripled and it’s been going on for so long.
“The price of a pint is £5.50 with us now and we’ll wait as long as we can. It’s going to take a lot of thought, and rightly so. But you can’t pass it all on.
“We’ll get through this too, but at what cost, I don’t know. It’s really like we’re working for the energy companies right now. The costs are so high that it is survival at this stage and there are no big profits to be made.
Pub enthusiast Brendan Harkin, who has been keeping the Northern Ireland pint count since Covid-19, said the £6 barrier for a non-premium pint could soon be breached in parts of the city centre.
“It definitely looks like with the current price changes we’ve already seen over the past year, we’re well on our way to a scenario of £6+ pints becoming much more common over the next couple of years. , and that’s before you even take into account something as huge as the increases in energy prices that companies will take on over the course of this year.
“With NI already a low wage economy and the hospitality industry particularly bad for pay/working conditions, I imagine further price increases that do not benefit staff and will be increasingly unaffordable for the punter medium could see the hospitality industry enter quite a rough patch.”
Willie Jack, the owner of Duke of York and Harp bars in the Cathedral Quarter, said there was a slight difference between the two venues. At the Duke of York it’s £5 for a pint of Guinness and £5.50 for a pint of an imported product like Peroni. But a pint of Guinness costs £5.50 at the Harp Bar and an imported beer £6. However, Mr Jack said the venue had higher costs as it had live music and security was provided by a contractor.
The owner of a hospitality venue in Derry said: ‘We are looking at all of our costs as increases come in, mainly on utilities. Beverages have not been such a problem, although beverage companies generally manage to pass on price increases about twice a year.
“But two Cokes are still £6 in Derry, and I would find the idea of two Cokes for £10 extraordinary.”
Colin Neill, managing director of Hospitality NI, said venues charge different prices for pints depending on their market and catchment area.
He added: “You will come to a point where there will be a cap where you can no longer charge even if your costs are higher. But we would never get to a place where it cost £6 everywhere.