Restaurants in, nightclubs out… the changing face of going out in Portsmouth

PEOPLE in Portsmouth are ditching drinking in favour of meals out, with the number of licensed clubs halving since the millennium.

By Fiona Callingham
Friday, 5th April 2019, 4:18 pm
Updated Friday, 5th April 2019, 4:22 pm
Picture: Shutterstock
Picture: Shutterstock

According to recent figures from the Office for National Statistics the city saw a steeper decline in the number of nightclubs and social clubs than the national average – from 50 in 2001 to 25 in 2018.

Across England there were 31 per cent less licensed clubs in that time.

In contrast the number of licensed restaurants rose dramatically - 85 to 150 - and across the country eateries that can serve alcohol increased by 52 per cent.

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Joshua Summerell

For Portsmouth City Council's culture chief, Councillor Steve Pitt, this was 'unsurprising.' He said: 'People's social habits are changing and there's less of a club culture but I think we are at a period of transition in terms of how people spend their leisure time.

'I also think people are more savvy with their money and there's more health awareness. But there will always be a place for the club scene.'

His views were echoed by the council's licensing committee chairman, Cllr David Fuller. 'I think it's the way people are lately,' he said.

'It is easier to get alcohol now. You can just go to the local supermarket for it. 

Kieran Matthews

'I think it's a generation of people have started to change their habits. Last weekend I saw people queueing up at Asda to get barbecues. People are getting together more in their own homes.

'But clubs here are well run with good security. Portsmouth has got some great nightlife but people change their lifestyles.'

Employment in licensed clubs in the city has reduced by more than half as a result, with 350 staff last year compared to 800 in 2001. But demand for licensed restaurant staff increased from 900 to 2,000.

Michael Kill, the chief executive of the Night Time Industries Association which aims to promote the value of bars, nightclubs, pubs and restaurants in the UK, explained that the industry was shifting.

Krystale Broomer

He said: 'In the last 10 years the food and beverage market has seen unprecedented growth, with the consumer market changing its focus to a broader leisure experience, encompassing food, beverage and social engagement.

'There has been a natural decline in standard bar and pub operations against hybrid experiential leisure facilities, within a constantly evolving landscape of consumer requirement.'

Licensed clubs are defined as premises for the preparation and serving of beverages for immediate consumption at nightclubs or social clubs. But excludes venues that resell packaged or prepared beverages and sell beverages through vending machines.




'I don’t go out drinking as much as the people that I know.. we are not really the sort of people who like to just drink. I think it’s a bit of a waste of money. I prefer to go to a restaurant over going out, I just think there’s a sense of class. If I’m going out with people, you don’t wanna be

spending money on something you do all the time anyway. You can do different things, you can go to a restaurant which is a pub as well. I’m more likely to stay home and do stuff with my friends instead of going out drinking.' - Joshua Summerell, 19, Cosham


'I used to drink a lot, but I drink less now due to my health. I used to go out late at night, but now I much prefer a restaurant meal, so I go to Wetherspoons because it’s cheap for a meal.' -

Krystale Broomer, 32, Leigh Park


'I don’t drink at all. I’d definitely rather go to a restaurant as I prefer the atmosphere, but most restaurants are like pubs nowadays anyway. I’m more likely to do things at home over going out.' - Penny Boyd, 54, florist, Cosham


'Never really drunk much at all to be honest, rather go out to a restaurant than a pub because I don’t really drink, but I’d prefer stay at home.' - Kieran Matthews, 27, Cosham worker


‘I would rather go to a pub over a restaurant because of the atmosphere and restaurants are more expensive. The way pubs are has changed a lot. When I was growing up, there was no food, maybe a pie if you were lucky, kiddies weren’t allowed in, I used to sit outside with my

orange squash while my parents were inside. - Barry Chipper, 75, Cosham


'I prefer pubs but I drink a lot less now. You don’t necessarily have to drink in the pub but there’s a better atmosphere.' - Lesley Dodd, 53, Cosham