Our socialising culture is changing. It's been changing for years. Pubs that hang on to the spit and sawdust, old fashioned model of a pub are finding that it no longer works. Depending on volume sales of ubiquitous brands, except where there is a volume market to be had by default, will almost certainly result in poor trading.
We wonder why so many pubs are turning their style over to restaurant format, or apparently becoming "Gastro pubs", perhaps we miss the point that this is where the money is, and it's been going that way for some time. The bistro, trendy, modern bar that serves a combination of progressive cask ales and more individual continental beers are becoming all the more successful. This might well be at the distress of some traditionalists, but this is the way it goes.
Additionally to this, although the consumption of alcohol might be reducing, and more over might be reducing more in "community pubs" this does not account for the apparent overall reduction in pubs. What I believe is having a greater effect is the move to larger, more efficient pubs, the likes of Wetherspoons, that can clearly manage to achieve economies of scale that smaller community pubs cannot. One large Wetherspoons for instance, will probably manage to turnover the same money as up to 10 ordinary, small, community pubs put together. If Wetherspoons is the thing that people want, perhaps this is what we should accept.
The remainder of the market is going to be the more trendy, restaurant style pub or the specialist beer bar. The style of business where spends per head can be maximised. The remote, small rural pubs are going to find it more and more difficult to survive and the industry would, in my view, would be better off accepting this.
There are a couple of good posts that look directly at the BBPA assertion that 52 pubs per week are closing. One on Jeffo's blog and one on Southport Drinkers blog. The comment threads are worth looking at.