It is hard to imagine that pubs could suffer a tougher year than they did in 2008, what with consumer spend plummeting as fast as alcohol duty rocketed and the terrible summer weather exacerbating the continued fallout from the smoking ban.
But with all the indications suggesting that the UK is about to enter a recession that will be as long as it is deep, 2009 will be another year to batten down the hatches for pub operators.
Expect more licensing disputes, with councils being encouraged by the Government to clamp down on "problem premises" and new rules on the sale and promotion of alcohol set to be implemented.
But it is not all doom and gloom out there. Decent pubs serving real beer and good quality value for money food will survive, while high quality food-led pubs will continue to thrive as long as they maintain standards. And it is not all about food - quality drink-led operations can thrive, helped in part by lower running costs.
By Daniel Thomas
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