The Clean Vic

No, not a PG-cert version of EastEnders; but instead a new foray for renowned publican J Sainsbury. For two days next week the supermarket operator will be making the surprising step of running a pop-up pub in central London. To add to the intrigue, the pub will only be selling non/low alcoholic beverages. What are we missing here? The supermarket operator has spotted a spike in demand for non-alcoholic beverages, which could be symptomatic of a bigger structural shift. Several recent product launches are responding to a 33% increase in internet search and a ~20% y-o-y increase in the size of the non-alco market. At the heart of this is a healthier approach to living, particularly among younger demographics, combined with an increase in religious diversity. 37% of 18 to 24-year-olds are ‘often influenced’ by health factors when buying drinks and 33% of young adults do not drink alcohol at all. Overall consumption has fallen by 16% since 2004. As the trend continues to unravel it remains to be seen how the heavily alcohol driven night-time economy will change. Whilst a straight swap of pubs for non-alcoholic bars is feasible (e.g. Redemption in Shoreditch / Notting Hill, and Brink Bar in Liverpool), this doesn’t feel how a new paradigm would logically be redesigned from scratch. Absent of a desire to achieve the inebriating impact of alcohol, the need to drink anything (hard or soft) disappears, and with it a social scene geared around sitting at tables doing so. This presents options for a range of new venues facilitating healthier night time social interactions that might look nothing like the pubs of the past century.