Pub price freeze – is it enough?
The Vintners Federation of Ireland and the Licensed Vintners have called on their members to respect a price freeze to keep pub prices at today’s levels for 12 months. I had to laugh when I read that the VFI and the LVI were suddenly concerned with their members providing value for money because the provision of good value has not seemed to be at the top of either group’s list for a very very long time.
When I heard the news this morning it took me by surprise because I didn’t realise the lobby groups had anything at all to do with pricing. I know that when we have complained about rip-off prices in Irish pubs in the past both groups have always been very quick to wash their hands of it and say they have no control over the price of a pint .
Having said all that, this voluntary “price freeze” is probably good news and it’s hard not to welcome it. Hard, but not impossible – the price of a pint in too many pubs in Ireland is just ridiculous and has been ridiculous for a long time so freezing the price at these levels is hardly good enough.
A pint of Guinness in some well known pubs in Dublin costs €5.40 up to 11pm and then €6 after that. Six euro for a pint of stout is scandalous. Lagers cost even more and spirits and mixers are even more extravagantly priced. Some pubs think nothing of charging €3 for a pint of water and a dash of blackcurrant. This is a drink on which there is no tax and one which costs the publican around 10 cent, if it even costs them that much. Yet a charge of €1.50 and up to twice that amount for a non-alcoholic drink is not uncommon.
What I, and I suspect many other people, would like to see is a significant price reduction across the board. That might be the only thing that will bring customers back. A combination of rip-off prices, the smoking bans, stricter drink driving laws and sometimes pretty woeful public transport is what is driving people away from the pubs and this move which a cynic might call a publicity stunt is probably not going to be enough to reverse the tide.