One of Britain's biggest pub chains has announced it will implement a "dynamic pricing" system at some of its locations, adding about 20p to the price of a pint of beer during busier hours.
The Stonegate Group, who own both the Slug & Lettuce and Yates chains, announced they are to begin raising prices at 800 of their locations during peak times like the evenings and weekends, in order to cover rising costs.
Patrons have been informed of the change with a “polite notice” in Stonegate pubs, informing them of the need to raise prices to cover extra staffing costs, more bouncers at the door, extra cleaning, washing glasses, and “complying with licensing requirements”.
The company has made similar moves in the past during special occasions like World Cups, but has now chosen to introduce price variance more frequently.
Dynamic pricing, often known as surge pricing, is a common feature of other industries, such as aviation and taxi-hailing apps, where airlines charge more for tickets during the school holidays.
The chief executive of another of Britain’s big pub chains, who asked not to be named, told The Guardian that Stonegate's transparency in informing customers of the changes may have backfired amid dismay on social media and negative publicity.
“To be honest, good for them that they’re telling people,” he said, but added that Stonegate are not the only ones doing it," and that the practice is not unusual and has been “going on for decades” in the larger venues during events and busy periods.
A spokesperson for Stonegate, which has 4,500 venues, said: “Stonegate Group, like all retail businesses, regularly review pricing to manage costs but also to ensure we offer great value for money to our guests.
“Across the managed business, our dynamic pricing encompasses the ability to offer guests a range of promotions including happy hours, two-for-one cocktails, and discounts on food and drink products at different times on different days throughout the week.
“This flexibility may mean that on occasions pricing may marginally increase in selective pubs and bars due to the increased cost demands on the business with additional staffing or licensing requirements such as additional door team members.”