CAMRA, the Campaign for Real Ale, has called on consumers to support the pub industry in January amid fears the traditional post-Christmas downturn could lead to outlets going out of business.

The Isle of Whithorn's Steam Packet Inn is among 7000 UK outlets which have received promotional packs to encourage people to visit their local pub throughout the month, with the campaign also being used by Camra to reinforce its call for a freeze in beer duty at the Budget in March.

Camra's Pubs and the Economy initiative will also highlight the importance of the pub industry to the UK economy.

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The group claims pubs employ 500,000 people and the brewing and bar sector is worth £19 billion a year to the UK economy, but warns a drop in trade after the festive season could prove to be the "nail in the coffin" for many businesses.

Camra said pubs were currently closing at a rate of 26 a week across the UK.

Chief executive Mike Benner said: "Pubs play an important part in the UK economy and need to be protected and supported.

"The Pubs and the Economy campaign does not only call on people to use their locals in January, but also highlights the importance of the pub industry overall and encourages people to support Camra's call for a freeze in beer duty in the 2014 Budget.

"This support could play an important role in saving many pubs."

Mr Benner urged those who support Camra's stance to bring their local MPs on board. He added: "Alongside contacting their MP and asking for a freeze in beer duty, the best way people can help the pub industry is to use their local pub during January."