With enough data you could probably predict when pubs will be busy, or quiet. But, occasionally, it seems to be a mystery.
Years ago, Jess was involved, at a remove, in the management of a hotel-restaurant-pub, and sometimes worked with the manager to attempt to anticipate the ebb and flow of business.
They’d take into account various factors:
- day of the week
- NHS payday
- school holidays
- bank holidays
- general tourism data
- events and festivals
Sometimes, they nailed it.
Other times, they’d double the kitchen order and bring on extra staff, only to have them rattling round a mostly empty bar.
Or, alternatively, bank on a quiet one only to run out of chips and cask ale by 2pm on Saturday.
We’ve often pondered on the longer-term patterns that might be at play.
For example, if December 2021 was quiet, does that mean December 2022 will be extra busy? If people go abroad one year, will they stay at home the next?
And different pubs, in different towns and cities, have their own rhythms.
In Bristol, you definitely need to know when City or Rovers are playing.
Last weekend, we struggled to get into pubs in Bristol. The Good Measure (quiet back street), The Portcullis (ditto, but with Belgian beer festival), The Kings Head (east of city centre) and The Barley Mow (back street) were all rammed.
We ended up at the Moor taproom, because it’s on the way home and usually has space, and even that seemed busier than usual.
When we asked about this on Twitter, someone pointed out that last Friday, the last Friday of the month, was payday for many people. But not for everyone. The 28th of the month and last working day of the month are also common.
Our best guess, observing the crowds, was a mix of:
- World Cup
- last opportunity to meet mates before Christmas obligations kick in
- people in town for Christmas shopping
- people calling Christmas early to counter the general bleakness
Or, to put that more simply, football + early Christmas.
We’re tempted to discount football, though, because most of the pubs we wanted to go to didn’t have football on.
Maybe this is what Christmas was always like and we’ve just forgotten after several really weird years.
Oh, who knows. It’s clearly complicated.
If you run a pub, how do you go about working out how busy you might be? What patterns have you spotted?