Sky News Links To Us As Drinking Rates Fall

Changing Drinking Attitudes Lead Dry Bar Demand

Over the weekend Sky News ran an interesting feature on Dry Bars and their emergence on the social scene.

Their piece reports that demand for the non-alcohol pub has been fuelled by a significant change in drinking attitudes.

Sky News contacted us tsky-news-logoo check if the reduction in adult drinking rates showed consistency with teenage drinking rates and kindly linked to our website in their piece.

Catherine Salway set up a Dry Bar in London last year after spotting a trend in young people wanting to be healthier and cutting back their drinking.

She said: “If you’re 30 now, you’ve grown up in an environment where everyone is getting lashed all the time … and really, as young people want to do, they are questioning the status quo which is to say why is socialising constantly linked with being drunk all the time?”

The findings from our Social Norms programme indicate that young people are not really aware of what that “status quo” actually is – until we tell them the truth about how many non-drinkers there really are.

And the numbers are changing significantly.

In 2011, the numbers of young people who rarely or never drank alcohol were 82%.

In March 2014 this number has now risen to 89%. The biggest surprise to many is that more than half of this 89% represent young people who do not drink at all (over 40,000 13-15 year olds surveyed).

When we started, perceptions of those drinking once a week or more started at around 54%.

The data for this has now moved to around 41% in most parts of the UK, thus helping to drive a more positive change in behaviour.

The story from Sky News is an extremely welcome step change from the typical reporting you see in the media relating to young people and binge drinking.

For us, it’s another example of why understanding and tackling the ‘Social Norm’ must remain central to any long term behavioural change strategy.


  1. In Southampton the opposite is true. We have a big bar district mostly emerged from the huge student population here. Consequently on weekday nights the bars compete with each other on prices. Tuesday nights most bars do £1 drinks. At one time they were 80p and a I cite

    Having a friend who works in one of these venues I can realiably report that these venues are vastly packed these nights and experience a roaring trade. With this is an escalation of drink related problems occur such as fighting and generally excessive drunkness.

    I really hope the drinking rates in youths do decrease but from the perspective of Southampton we have a different side to the story.

    1. A student focussed population will always add pressures and challenges on every area, however all the data we have (even for students) is that drinking rates are massively on the decrease. If that were not true, pubs would not be closing down all over the UK – where typically they have had 7 nights a week demand and now only have Friday and Saturdays. 5, 10, 20 years ago many people drank daily. Now very few do.

      The clue to your comment is that bars are selling alcohol cheap. If the demand really was there they wouldn’t have to resort to such tactics to draw people in. In reality, the cheaper prices mean that fewer people are able to consume more. The knock on effect is more negative behaviour and higher publicity of that behaviour, leading to people like you thinking that binge drinking is on the rise!

      In summary don’t confuse the above scenario with more young people drinking – quite simply they really are not.

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