Summer beckons; trips to the countryside or seaside, picnics and long afternoons in the pub garden are all part of the rich tapestry of Britishness, woven into our national psyche. From the pageantry of the recent Royal Wedding, to the lush grass of a wet Wimbledon, we will all look to make the most of those precious summer days.
For businesses selling alcohol, however, there can be challenges brought on by the sunshine. Thinking ahead can help you make the most of those precious summer days.
Pubs and bars
For pubs with gardens, summer is the time to break out the awnings and wipe down the benches. However, for residents nearby, living near a pub or bar with outside space can become too much very quickly. Complaints to the council about noise from pubs or bars increases with the temperature. Full gardens and windows thrown open are, unfortunately, not always appreciated. Whilst the old saying: ‘don’t live next to a pub if you don’t like it’ is certainly fair in many circumstances, it only really works where the noise can be considered reasonable. Customers being rowdy late at night, or music blaring from open windows, are unlikely to go down well with neighbours, nor will it be viewed as acceptable to council officers investigating complaints. A little thought and ‘putting yourself in their shoes’ means that you are less likely to overstep the mark between what is acceptable and what isn’t. If you are doing something different, like having a beer festival or live music outside a little notice to your neighbours will be appreciated and may even drum up extra custom.
In towns and cities, customers enjoying an evening pint in the sun can lead to large groups standing out on pavements. It is your responsibility to ensure that such groups do not cause a nuisance, either by blocking doorways or the pavement itself, or otherwise disturbing residents by standing directly outside their properties. It is worth giving some thought to a management plan for those busy days in advance. At the very least if you can point to a management plan if asked, it is difficult to argue that you are not taking any concerns raised seriously.
For many people, summer heralds picnics and the last minute dash between the offie/ supermarket/ corner shop and the park. Shops also often take on students, home for the summer, looking for a little extra money. There are a number of things to take into account when you combine the two:
- Training: Are new staff members confident that they know about your challenge policy and how to apply it? Can you evidence you have given training to any new staff members?
- Under-age sales: It can be a problem all year round, but in the summer, especially if you are near to a local festival or event, it is likely that there will be an increase in young people looking to try it on.
- Advice from police and licensing officers: local summer events and fetes can be a real boon for business, but also there are likely to be local concerns raised at a policing and council level. Are you in touch with your local officers? Perhaps you are thinking about putting in extra service points, like an outside till to sell cans or bottles to people heading to an event? If you are, make sure you get any TENs applications in early to avoid disappointment.
- Discounting: Whilst minimum unit pricing has yet to see the light of day outside of Scotland, do not forget the loss-leading promotions can be caught by the mandatory condition on your premises licence in relation to sales under the permitted price (effectively a calculation based on duty chargeable and VAT). The calculation can be found in the mandatory conditions section of your licence.
- Conditions: Conditions on your premises licence can prevent certain products being sold, or restrict how products are sold (single cans, for instance). It is worth reminding yourself of any conditions like this on the licence, just in case. Breaches of condition are a criminal offence, after all.