New figures indicate that Aberdeenshire saw no growth in its pub trade last year - despite the number of locals across the UK rising for the first time in over a decade.
Office for National Statistics statistics show that the pumps were pouring at around 90 public houses in the region in 2019 – the same number as in the previous year.
But despite business holding steady, it still represents a drop from the 110 pubs open in 2007.
The introduction of the smoking ban the year before, the impact of the recession and a rise in alcohol duty in 2008 have all been blamed for landlords calling last orders since then.
The number of pubs across Scotland fell slightly last year, to 2,835 – a long way from the 3,500 in 2007.
Across the UK, a 1% rise in the numbers of pubs last year to just over 39,000 was the first increase since 2007, when the figure stood at 51,000.
Industry bodies have cautiously welcomed the national increase, but have called for tax breaks to ensure the survival of the “great British pub”.
The Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA)is calling on Governments to review business rates and lower the tax rate on beer sold.
In 2007, the average watering hole in the UK employed five people. Now, the figure stands at eight.
In Aberdeenshire, a similar trend has been seen, with the average pub employing six staff in 2019, up from four from 2007.
A Scottish Government spokeswoman said: “Local pubs play an important social role in many communities across Scotland, which is why we are supporting town centres – including pubs – as they face the challenge of changing and evolving customer patterns.
“Our £50 million capital Town Centre Fund 2019-20 enables local authorities to stimulate and support economic investments which encourage town centres to diversify and flourish, creating footfall through local improvements and partnerships.”