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Britons shun pubs as drinking declines

The number of Britons drinking outside the home has fallen by a tenth since 2009, new statistics show, confirming a trend of closing pubs and increasing sobriety that belies Britain's boozy image.

LONDON: The number of Britons drinking outside the home has fallen by a tenth since 2009, new statistics show, confirming a trend of closing pubs and increasing sobriety that belies Britain's boozy image.

The country's pubs and bars are struggling, with many converted into homes or left shuttered and decaying amid rising drinks prices and a growing tendency for Britons to buy alcohol more cheaply in supermarkets and drink at home.

In real terms, between 2009 and 2012 household spending on alcoholic drinks in Britain increased by 1.3 per cent, whilst that bought for consumption outside the home fell by 9.8 per cent, data from public body the Health and Social Care Information Centre showed.

Also, the proportion of men who drank alcohol in the week before being interviewed fell from 72 per cent to 64 per cent between 2005 and 2012, while the proportion of women fell from 57 per cent to 52 per cent.

The decline in drinking is more pronounced among the young, with 43 per cent of school pupils aged between 11 and 15 saying they had drunk alcohol at least once in 2012, a fall of almost a fifth since 2003, when 61 per cent said they had tried it.

According to the British Beer and Pub Association, the number of pubs in Britain fell to 49,433 in 2012 from 67,800 in 1982.

Still, drinking in pubs and bars remains a popular British pastime, and the traditional wood-panelled, carpeted pub is a national icon and a draw for tourists.

British-born Canadian actor Kiefer Sutherland, star of the hit TV show "24" whose latest series is based in London, said he would like to buy a pub in the capital.

"British pubs are the best in the world. They are pretty much the only ones that have any authenticity about them," the Sun newspaper on Friday reported Sutherland as saying.

"I would love to buy a pub in London, that would be so cool," he added.

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