These days, the pub industry runs on a tight margin. Stock levels are kept down during quiet times, expensive products are exchanged for cheaper ones, and most of all staff levels are cut as far as they can be.
Early January is always the slowest time of the year. My regular haunt has cut 16 hours off its trading time because, frankly, nobody is drinking on weekday afternoons. Many places now only have one person on the rota most times. This can present certain difficulties, as I saw today.
I was in a different pub to usual, due to the usual place's aforementioned new opening hours. I was one of three customers there. The barman took a food order from the other two and disappeared into the kitchen to sort it out. Then the pub phone started ringing. It rang for over a minute, so it was presumably important. Then another customer came to the bar. He saw nobody there. He waited 30 seconds and left. Potential trade lost. The barman reappeared just as the door shut, but he wouldn't have known any of this.
This sometimes happens at my usual place, but as I know the staff there, I usually know what they're doing and can tell any waiting customers they'll get served in, literally, about one minute. They can then make up their own mind whether they want to stay. But what happens when there's no regular to explain this?
No, they will just bugger off and think "Well, not going there again". So, how can the customer be satisfied and the pub keep it's staffing rota balanced for trade? In my opinion, it can't. These two desires cannot meet in the middle, and a certain amount of potential trade will always be lost.
But the thing is, the pub will never know how much it's losing...