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Even Britain's pubs are feeling recession pains

Empty beer glasses at a pub in England.

TEXT OF STORY

JEREMY HOBSON: To London now where pub owners say they are being hit from two directions: the global economic slowdown means people are buying fewer drinks -- and the housing collapse has reduced property values.

As the BBC's Jon Bithrey reports for many pubs that double whammy is leaving the pint glass half empty.


JON BITHREY: It's the most British of British institutions. But the recession, higher taxes on alcohol, and a smoking ban have all hit Britain's pubs hard.

Simon Hall from pub property consultant Fleurets says Brits are also buying more alcohol in stores, and avoiding the bar.

SIMON HALL: Supermarkets have been using alcohol as a loss leader -- selling it at less than it costs them to buy -- so availability of ridiculously cheap alcohol has given people cautious about spending anyway a massive opportunity to buy even more alcohol and drink it at home and not go to the pub.

According to the industry, 38 pubs are shutting every week in the UK -- some actually end up as stores or fast food outlets. Many landlords are hoping the all important Christmas party season will add a bit of froth to flat profits.

In London, I'm the BBC's Jon Bithrey for Marketplace.

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