Business

St Patrick's Day starts boom time for pubs

  • 17 March 2011
  • From the section Business
St Patrick's Day celebrations
Image caption St Patrick's Day is one of the busiest days for pubs and bars

Pubs and bars around the world have been decked out in green as St Patrick's Day celebrations get underway.

About 13 million pints of Guinness are expected to be drunk across the globe - five million of them in the UK - while the merriment is likely to carry on over the weekend, particularly with Ireland playing England in the Six Nations rugby.

"Obviously it's an important day for the trade," says Neil Williamson from the British Beer and Pubs Association (BBPA).

"And for rugby and football, the pub is certainly the best place - apart from actually being there - to watch the game."

And with the Six Nations drawing to a climax, Guinness, which is the official beer of the tournament, hopes that it won't just be a profitable St Patrick's Day, but a bumper week.

"It means people can celebrate the weekend before and after as well as the day itself, creating a triple spike in sales for an outlet and Guinness," says Oakley Walters, brand manager at Guinness.

'Positive' spring

Image caption It won't just be the bride and groom hoping for good weather on 29 April

Spring is traditionally a profitable time of year for British pubs, with St Patrick's Day followed by Mother's Day and Easter. And this year, there's the added bonus of the royal wedding between Prince William and Kate Middleton on 29 April.

The government has already said that pubs in England and Wales will be able to stay open longer for the occasion.

"We've got a potentially positive spring [this year]," Mr Williamson says. "We've got the royal wedding and Easter, and if the weather's good it's a really good opportunity for pubs."

If the weather's good for the wedding, it could be particularly good for business as people may want to watch the occasion on a big screen and enjoy the hospitality of a pub, he says.

Planning ahead

So what will pubs be doing to encourage the punters in?

Image caption James Daley hopes his special offers will draw in the punters

James Daley is the manager of the Dartmouth Arms pub in Tufnell Park, north London.

He says that on St Patrick's Day the pub will be offering deals on pints of Guinness and Jameson's whiskey, as well as on Irish stew, and steak and Guinness pie.

And he's already making plans for events in the rest of the spring, with a 100-day planner to prove it.

"Sunday, 27 March is the first day of British Summer Time, so I'll probably do something silly for that," he says. "Maybe have a summer hat day - if you wear a hat, you'll get a free drink."

He's also lining up promotions for April Fools' Day, Mothering Sunday and the Queen's birthday.

And that's before we even get to the royal wedding.

He wants to offer something British to mark the occasion.

"British Bulldog [ale] has the union jack on the label. We'll probably run a deal on that - something like four pints of British ale for a tenner," he says.

Entertainment

The Dartmouth Arms is set in a residential area, off the main road.

Image caption The Dartmouth Arms is on a residential road in north London

It's important to Mr Daley to run these special events, particularly because of the pub's location, to keep the locals wanting to come back.

"We're very much a community pub, with a lot of regulars, so it's important we have events to keep them entertained," he says.

He adds that this is the time of year that pubs look forward to, after what may have been a slow start.

January and February often see a fall in trade as new year's resolutions kick in, as well as people taking stock of their finances.

"We're still big on Fridays and Saturdays, but the 'midweekers' are still paying for Christmas in January and February," he says.

Special brews

But consumers watching their purse strings doesn't always mean bad news, says Neil Williamson from the BBPA.

With people increasingly spending more of their holidays in the UK, pubs are often the beneficiaries of that.

He adds: "With the royal wedding and Easter being so close together, people may take more time off, then we could hopefully see more business."

And it's not just pubs who will be looking to cash in on the royal nuptials.

"Brewers as well will put on special beers to commemorate the occasion," Mr Williamson says.

And Oakley Walters confirms that Guinness, for one, will be looking to take advantage of events over the next month or two.

"The large number of bank holiday weekends this spring will provide people with the perfect opportunity to get together and go out with their mates, to make the most of their time off and we will definitely look to capitalise on this," he says.

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