How to survive Dry January

This time of year is traditionally slow for the pub industry. After maxing the credit cards over Christmas customers are tightening their belts and going out less. New Year’s Resolutions to lose weight or detox mean people are staying in; and alcohol free challenges like Dry January don’t help.

But licensees can still do things to buck this trend. While it may be unrealistic to expect a packed pub every night this January, there are things you can do to attract customers to your pub.

Here are a few ideas to help your pub survive Dry January.

Incentivise customers with a free pint

Offering customers a free drink is a tried and tested way to attract people into your pub. The majority of customers will go on to buy at least one more drink having taken you up on your offer, and may also buy snacks or food at the same time. Make sure you limit the amount of free drinks available and how many individuals can claim, otherwise it could be an expensive month!

Pub food promotions

Alternatively what about a food promotion such as ‘kids eat free’ with a paying adult, two course fixed menus at a great price (perhaps including a drink too), or a discount on food during January? Think carefully about your target customers and what promotions will be most attractive to them. For example, if you know that your customers are very budget conscious at this time of year, offer smaller incentives such as free bar snacks when a customer spends £10 or more on a round of drinks.  

Become a Dry January venue

If you can’t beat them, join them! Why not stock up with some exciting alcohol-free drinks and promote your pub as a Dry January venue. Create a menu of alcohol-free cocktails, host a tasting evening trying out different alcohol-free beers, or explore alternative drinks like Seedlip’s range of non-alcoholic spirits.

Host a Resolution Busted party!

By mid-January many people have broken their New Year’s Resolutions and therefore need an excuse to feel good about themselves and not like they've failed. The best way to do this is to socialise with everyone else who hasn’t been able to keep their NYR’s and have some fun instead! Host a Resolution Busted Party to remind them what a great place your pub is to socialise in with their friends and family.

Promote your pub as community space

Some New Year’s Resolutions you can get behind and provide people with a venue to achieve them. Many people want to improve themselves in some way or set themselves social goals like making new friends, or finding the love of their lives! Your pub could be a venue for a book club, run thought-provoking workshops, ‘meet your neighbours’ events, or speed dating evenings.

Healthy menus

As well as Dry January some people are also taking part in Veganuary or generally trying to eat more healthily this month. A healthy menu with a focus on vegetables could be a great opportunity to attract customers and also trial healthy dishes for your menus throughout the rest of the year. How about having a tasting session to create some interest around your healthy options? At the same time you’ll get some valuable market research into customer preferences and demand.

Our Food & Supplies service can help you introduce more healthy food options very quickly, speak to your BDM about it or click here to find out more.

Advocate moderation

Not everyone wants to abstain from alcohol for a whole month, many people prefer to moderate their drinking by having a few alcohol free days and generally drinking less. Get behind customers by recommending low alcohol beers and supporting their efforts, while at the same time reminding them to support their local pub.

End of Dry January party!

Finally, another excuse for a celebration! To coincide with the end of Dry January and customers receiving their first pay check of 2019, host an End of Dry January party. Since many people who complete Dry January plan to cut down on alcohol throughout the rest of the year too, make sure you promote your low and non-alcohol drinks so they know they’re catered whenever they want a night out.

If you’ve got any great ideas for boosting trade during January and February, share them in our regional Facebook groups. Click on the links below to join:

Greene King - Run a Pub - North

Greene King - Run a Pub - Midlands and South

Greene King - Run a Pub - East Anglia and South East