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Last Updated: Thursday, 24 November 2005, 17:00 GMT
New laws 'storm in a pint glass'
Serving drinks for longer hours will not boost drinks industry profits
The new round-the-clock licensing laws may be regarded by conspiracy theorists as a drinks industry plot to turn the UK into a nation of alcoholics.

But the truth is far more sober and mundane, according to a report by market analysts Datamonitor.

The benefits of longer drinking hours to the industry will be cancelled out by extra running costs, it said.

Few venues had extended closing times by more than an hour and the impact on drink consumption would be minimal.

The effect of the new laws will be "marginal" for all concerned and the net effect on total alcohol consumption will be even more so, said John Band, senior analyst at Datamonitor.

Shaken, not stirred

Closing time is not a major factor, Mr Band said, because few moderate drinkers imbibe past 11pm, and binge drinkers already visit town-centre bars and nightclubs.

The impact on total alcohol consumption will be negligible
John Band, Datamonitor

The only impact will be the small boost in alcohol sales driven by people who want a quiet late night tipple such as theatregoers and shift workers.

And the benefits of drink sales after 11pm will be eaten up by the costs of staying open at that time. That is why relatively few establishments have applied for extensions much beyond midnight.

"The biggest development in today's alcoholic drinks industry is that consumers are shifting from on-trade to off-trade drinking, motivated by the lower price and greater comfort of drinking at home," said Mr Band.

"The impact on total alcohol consumption will be negligible."

More than 1,000 pubs, clubs and supermarkets have been granted 24-hour licences to sell alcohol under laws which came into effect on 24 November.

Around 40% of premises applied to vary their licences by either extending their opening by an hour or two or by offering late food and entertainment.

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