Someone within the Office of National Statistics has the rather soft job of counting up all the UK's pubs -- no doubt stopping off for a shandy on work time as each one is ticked off the list -- and has reached the shocking conclusion that the number of pubs operating in the country has risen for the first time in a decade.
The latest numbers show that the nation has 320 more pubs open for business than it did at this time last year, with the ONS figures hopefully leading to a "reversal of fortunes" for the UK's drinking holes, according to analysis of the data carried out by the hospitality experts at Stampede.
The reason for the new strength in pub numbers isn't all about branches of Wetherspoons opening near the bus station in what used to be a House of Fraser, either. Stampede says our still-existing pubs are modernising their entertainment mix to offer more to do than choose between lager or cider, with music nights, Airbnb in the old rooms upstairs and better food menus increasing business and encouraging more people to return to the pub for their evening's fun.
The growth spurt still hides some problems, mind, especially for smaller premises. Only England contributed to the total rise, with Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland still losing pubs year-on-year, and larger sites surviving better than the classic, still besieged smaller local, with their types of crisps you forgot they still made and Colin's chair at the bar. [Guardian]