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Bottle shop licences overtake pub licences in NSW

Bottle shop licences overtake pub licences in NSW

Is the trend towards socialising at home one of the reasons the number of bottle shop licences have overtaken pub licences in NSW?

There are currently 2124 hotel licenses in NSW, compared to 2525 packaged liquor licences. 

Data released to Fairfax Media by Liquor & Gaming NSW shows about 1000 bottle shop licences have been granted in NSW since 2008, while about 100 pubs have closed, many in regional towns that have fallen on harder times.

The City of Sydney area has the most pub licences in NSW with 344, but there were 14 fewer licences in January 2018 than there were in January 2015. The inner-west suburb of Leichhardt has four fewer pub licences than 2015, with many other Sydney postcodes also recording declines.   

Professor in the School of Medicine and Public Health at the University of Newcastle Kypros Kypri said the growth of bottle shops "reflects changing patterns of socialisation".

"This trend may connect with another broader trend, because youth drinking is falling in many high income countries including Australia," Professor Kypri said. "One hypothesis is that people are socialising less face to face in part because of social media."

Cheaper prices at bottle shops and the rise of online retailers were also possible factors. 

Of around 2500 liquor licences in NSW for bottle shops and online retailers, about 14% are "online only". In 2012, they made up about 9%. However, Liquor Stores Association NSW & ACT executive director Michael Waters said: "We know that a significant proportion of these licences are not active or trading. Interestingly we are seeing that a similar number enter and exit the market from one year to the next." 

The other area bottle shops are proliferating is in supermarkets or stores owned by the major chains: Aldi, IGA, Coles and Woolworths.