Kim Macdonald, from the West Australian, has written an interesting piece highlighting some of the challenges currently facing the Perth small bar market.
With just over 100 small bars opening in WA since the introduction of the small bar license in 2007, it appears as though the local market may have reached saturation. With a number of venues changing hands over the last six months, including 2014 WA Small Bar of the Year – The Classroom.
Preferring to take a glass half-full view, Varnish on King’s Andy Freeman, is of the opinion the market is big enough to sustain the current level of small bars, and other hospitality venues. Believing that bars often struggled more so, due to circumstances within their respective operations, rather than market factors.
On the other hand, Bar 399 owner Peter Palmer, has suggested regulators, look at limiting the number of licenses issued within specific area, to help reduce competition?
Whilst, I don’t believe the Dept. of Racing, Gaming & Liquor are in the game of managing fair, and equitable markets. They do play a (public safety and harm minimisation) role in controlling the number of liquor licenses issued within certain precincts – Northbridge being one of them.
Given the size, and population, of the Perth market it’s inevitable that the growth in the number of new small bars opening would plateau. Added to this, operators will continue to enter, and leave, the market for any number of reasons – health, personal, financial, etc. Which is why i’m of the opinion that what we’re seeing is more of a settling, rather than a decline.
That said, I am aware of (at least) three new small bars that are set to open in Perth during the first half of 2016. Which would seem to indicate, there’s still a bit of ‘fizz’ left in the market.