Whose round is it anyway?

We’ve had pubs for 1000 years, and the tradition of buying a round probably goes back just as long.
But we all know it can get awkward when it comes to who's paying for what. So we dug a bit deeper.

It’s one of the busiest weeks of the year for observing Brits in a very traditional habitat, performing an ancient ritual: in a pub, with a group of friends, taking it in turns to stump up for a round of drinks.

We asked 2000 people if this convention is still going strong and two thirds – around 33 million of us - confirmed that yes, we’re still a nation of social pubgoers.

And of those who drink in pubs with friends, three quarters stick with the age-old practice of buying for each other. A cheery sign in these occasionally un-cooperative times.

We’ve had pubs in Britain for 1000 years, and the tradition of buying a round probably goes back just as long. But we all know it can get awkward, even among close friends (especially if you’re trying to work anything out after a few drinks). The cash kitty system seems a bit out of date now, and HyperJar research shows it definitely has a few flaws.


More than five million Brits have a friend or colleague who commits the ultimate pub sin by consciously avoiding their turn to buy a round. It may be the height of bad manners or just being, er, ‘careful’, but 16 per cent of pubgoers drinking together - the equivalent of 5.3 million people - say they know someone who seems to always get out of buying a round.

18 per cent of men and 13 per cent of women say they know people who get away with missing their turn. Regionally the figure rises to 23 per cent in the north east and 22 per cent in the south east but is at its lowest, just 8 per cent, in Wales.

One in three (33 per cent) say they have never tried to avoid buying a round, with the figures higher among older people - it rises to 53 per cent of those aged 55-64, 49 per cent aged 65-74 and 58 per cent of the over 75s.

However, up to three in four have tried to dodge a round in the past, particularly younger drinkers who may be counting the pennies a bit more closely or avoiding a particularly expensive round, our research shows.

The question of 'whose round is it anyway?' remains a thorny issue among drinkers with eight per cent of men and five per cent of women admitting they have fallen out with someone over not buying drinks when it is their turn.

The 21st century solution
Group Pub Jar

HyperJar makes social spending like this easy. The group pays into a Pub Nights Jar ahead of spending – what’s paid in might reflect whether the person’s teetotal or enjoys a festive pint – and then everyone pays for rounds directly from the Jar when it’s linked to their HyperJar Mastercards. All members of the Jar can leave notes for each other, planning where to meet (even agreeing a budget for the night while heads are clear).

The whole group sees who’s paid in, how much and who’s spent. No one gets stuck with the pricey round. No arguments over who’s paid their way.

That’s not to say there won’t be other pub arguments of course. There are some things we can’t help with.

Have a happy, social Christmas.

All data, unless otherwise stated, is from Walnut Unlimited, the human understanding agency, part of the Unlimited Group. Source: Walnut Omnibus, a nationally representative omnibus survey of 2,029 adults across GB between 29th November – 1st December 2019. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all GB adults (aged 18+).
Group Pub Rounds Jar