Back in 2005 (before they went smoke-free), there were 58,600 pubs in Britain - now there are around 52,000. Some of this can be put down to recession-hit punters drinking a Tesco six-pack at home, coupled with a 26% rise in beer duty over the past two years. Excessively leveraged management companies, for which pubs are just a property play, must also shoulder a fair share of the blame for this diminution of our national identity.
But it's not all bad news for owners willing to put in an early start. Highly profitable J D Wetherspoon reckons its pubs sell 400,000 breakfasts a week, second only to McDonald's. That'll be a pint of bitter and a croissant, please, bartender.