IT is no great calamity that the centrality of the pub in Irish culture is no longer secure but it would be foolish to imagine that a fall in drink sales in pubs, of 14%, means people are drinking less.
Though publicans and those they employ will be concerned, the drinks sector has adapted by selling a far greater proportion of their products through off-licences and supermarkets than previously. This is confirmed by the increase of 15% in off-licence sales in the first seven months of the year.
The perception that many underage drinkers find it far easier to source alcohol in off-licences and supermarkets will, in this context, give cause for concern.
There were many reasons to change our pub habits but it would be a tragedy if they were replaced by hundreds of thousands of people drinking alone without constraint and the threats that freedom poses.
© Irish Examiner Ltd. All rights reserved