The Australian pub industry was of course greatly impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, and as businesses continue to emerge from the hit, the industry is yet to return to pre-COVID income levels.

This deficit is due to both cost-of-living pressures – the highest since the 1990s – and changes in habits that came about from COVID restrictions.

However, a few trends are emerging to address these issues and get pubs back on track for 2024.

First to note is that pub fit-outs are moving back to designs that are relaxed and inviting, evoking nostalgia and comfort, with classic pub furniture and mood lighting. Although, this time fit-outs are also incorporating flexible spaces that can cater to broader needs, such as informal business meetings and other flexible working conditions.

This includes additions such as accessible charging ports, wi-fi, and offering coffee.

Design and aesthetics are increasingly important this year as more people share their experiences on social media, helping to attract customers.

With social media comes brand collaborations, from TikTok influencers, to pop-up kitchens. As pubs turn to multi-faceted offerings, out-of-the-box collaborations will make a difference in 2024.

Addressing the problem of rising costs, food offerings are looking to become simplified, with a focus on quality, turning to side dishes to increase profits.

Sustainability is a continued focus for 2024, while innovation is also an upcoming trend, whether it is fusion foods, native dishes or limited-time menus.

There has also been a growing demand for food and drink combinations at a similar price point to home delivery meals.

Meanwhile, a surge in demand for non-alcoholic drinks, spearheaded by younger generations, has emerged as a new trend.

Brand loyalty is being forged by a more personalised experience via technology, including tailored and exclusive offers. Jumping on tech trends such as geofencing is set to help build strong connections with customers well into the future.

Finally, entertainment is likely to focus more on local artists, as budget-conscious punters look to lower ticket prices to be able to spend more at the bar.

By focusing on points that address both the cost of living and new drinking habits, pubs have a great opportunity for a brighter future in 2024.

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