Better food, free internet access and livelier entertainment are among the menu of items punters want to attract them back to pubs.
But a survey of pub-goers show that cheaper booze is the biggest thing that would reverse the fall in visits to their locals.
The online poll among 500 Irish people shows that almost two-thirds are going to the pub less than they did two years ago and the same number are less likely now to go for a drink midweek. They are also spending and drinking less when they do go, mostly because of falling incomes, with half of those surveyed blaming the cost of food and drink on their changing habits.
When asked in the research for drinks company Molson Coors what changes they would like to see made in their local in the next year, two-thirds ticked cheaper drinks.
But more than one-in- three opted for free WiFi access for their smartphones and laptops, and a similar number said they wanted live music.
“The research illustrates that by offering value- added services... pubs can meet customer expectations and attract footfall without resorting to ongoing price reductions,” said Molson Coors country manager Niall Phelan.
The poll participants also had a strong message for the Government, as more than half are opposed to the planned setting of a minimum price per unit of alcohol.
But the plans being considered by junior health minister Roisin Shortall are supported by the Vintners’ Federation of Ireland, as publicans have lost a significant share of drink sales in recent years to supermarkets and off-licences.
The representative body estimates that a pub closes every day and that 5,000 jobs have been lost in the trade in the last three years.
Molson Coors’ Carling lager brand is to announce details soon of a €150,000 fund to help pubs implement changes identified by customers in the survey.
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