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Brits drink less due to downturn

Empty beer glasses at a pub in England.

TEXT OF STORY

STEVE CHIOTAKIS: It's Friday, but a new study in the U.K. shows fewer Brits will be partaking of a pint at the local pub tonight. The global downturn, says the report, is curbing Britain's appetite for alcohol.

Reporter Christopher Werth filed this report from London.


CHRISTOPHER WERTH: At the Pride of Spitalfields pub in East London, bartender Karen Brown proudly lists the local beers on tap.

KAREN BROWN: Brewer's Gold, Dunbar, Fuller's London Pride, and Fuller's ESB. The pub's been here over 200 years. Obviously I haven't.

But despite their long tradition, pubs like these are now closing at a rate of 40 every week. And things may only get worse. A new study shows that through the economic downturn over the past year, alcohol consumption dropped by 6 percent, the biggest decline since 1948.

Neil Williams is with the British Beer and Pub Association.

NEIL WILLIAMS: It's certainly had a big impact on pubs, particularly because beer and pubs are so closely linked in the U.K.

He says higher taxes on alcohol and campaigns for responsible drinking are also factors in the drop off. But advocates for moderation cite statistics that show binge drinking is on the rise. They've even proposed setting minimum prices on alcohol. That would mean Britons would likely drink even less.

In London, I'm Christopher Werth for Marketplace.

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