Wetherspoon's pubs across Oxfordshire will pick up new customers as the cost of living crisis starts to bite, according to a real ale expert.

Dave Richardson, of the Oxford branch of real ale group CAMRA (Campaign for Real Ale), said the pub chain’s cheap pints will inevitably attract more customers during the coming months.

He spoke out after the pub chain JD Wetherspoon announced it expected to make bigger than expected annual losses.

Read again: RAF stops flights as runway melts at Brize Norton

JD Wetherspoon has warned of bigger-than-expected annual losses amid rising staff pay and a slow recovery in bar trade as older drinkers continue to stay at home and sales of pints slump.

Oxford Mail:

Mr Richardson said: “I think it’s true that some older drinkers are staying away but equally they have very low prices, with some pints costing from £1.59-£1.99.

“That’s bound to bring in people who can not afford to pay more.

“Wetherspoon’s have always had a following because drinkers know it is cheap.”

Mr Richardson said while the company might be ‘taking a bit of a hit’ as times got tighter during the cost of living crisis, it was quite likely that ‘more people would become customers who were not before’.

“That should more than offset the loss of older clientele,” Mr Richardson added.

“Generally Wetherspoon’s pubs have quite a nice ambience.”

Oxford Mail:

Read again: Advice for homeless during the heatwave

JD Wetherspoon said it was anticipating losses of about £30m for the year to the end of July after investing to attract and retain workers, and ramping up spending on the wider business, including on repairs and marketing.

Underlying sales rose only 0.4% in the 11 weeks to 10 July as sales of draught ales, ciders and lagers - traditionally the pub chain’s biggest-selling lines - dropped 8%, offsetting a boom in sales of cocktails and hotel stays.

Analysts said the lack of demand for pints reflected the greater impact of inflation on older drinkers as well as their nervousness about returning to social activities after the pandemic lockdowns.

Wetherspoon’s, which has more than 800 pubs across the UK and Ireland, had said in May that it expected to break even over the full year, having welcomed a return to profit in March.

Read more: Police warn people to stay clear of field fire

Tim Martin, the chair of Wetherspoon’s, blamed the decline on rising inflation and the “unintended consequences” of coronavirus lockdowns, including many people leaving the workforce via early retirement.

Oxford Mail:

“Many people now work from home, rather than from offices, which has had a significant impact on transport and hospitality businesses,” Mr Martin said.

Wetherspoon’s pubs in Oxfordshire include The Four Candles and The Swan & Castle in Oxford, The Narrows in Abingdon, and The Company of Weavers in Witney.

Read more from this author

This story was written by Andy Ffrench, he joined the team more than 20 years ago and now covers community news across Oxfordshire.

Get in touch with him by emailing: Andy.ffrench@newsquest.co.uk

Follow him on Twitter @OxMailAndyF