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Busy pubs to charge customers more under new ‘dynamic pricing’ scheme

Drinkers hit with surcharge during peak trading times to help cover additional costs

Britain's biggest pub chain Stonegate Group has rolled out the flexible pricing system at some 800 sites across the country

Britain’s biggest pub chain is charging drinkers more at the busiest times with “dynamic” surcharges that make a pint of beer 20p more expensive on the weekend.

Stonegate Group, the largest pub company in the UK, is upping the price of a pint when its venues are busiest to help cover the cost of washing glasses, extra staff, supplying plastic cups and putting bouncers on the door.

The chain has introduced so-called “dynamic pricing” at some 800 sites across the country, hitting drinkers with higher prices when footfall is high.

The firm, which operates over 4,500 licensed businesses, initially brought in additional charges during major sports tournaments like the Fifa World Cup in 2018 and 2022, but has since made them permanent during “peak trading”.

Prices were previously increased by as much as £1 at the time, according to reports. Stonegate did not disclose how much current prices can vary, but the manager of the Coach House in central London, a Stonegate pub, said its “dynamic” pricing system meant the cost of a pint of beer was 20p more expensive on weekends.

It comes as sports fans are expected to fill pubs to watch the Rugby World Cup as the weather begins to cool this autumn.

Photos of signs in the chain’s pubs informing customers that surge pricing is in place have been shared on social media.

Messages left for customers with the “polite notice” inform drinkers “dynamic pricing is currently live in this venue during this peak trading session”.

The messages read: “Any increase in our pricing today is to cover these additional requirements” and go on to list needs such as additional bar and door staff, the use of extra cleaning and plastic pint glasses and “satisfying and complying with licensing requirements”.

Sharing a photo of one of the notices in a Google review, a disgruntled customer said: “Charges more because it’s busy? [The pub] wanted £4.50 for a small glass of cola… avoid like the plague.”

The pub wrote back saying it regretted the customer’s negative experience.

Another photo of the dynamic pricing notice was shared on LinkedIn from a pub in Manchester. The poster wrote: “We stumbled on this bar in Manchester to watch the football. It was packed until the last kick and then emptied almost straight away which may explain the dynamic pricing.

“I get the pressures on costs and pubs but the idea of not knowing the prices for sure at any time makes it a bit of a lottery and seems a bit uncomfortable. Not great for customer relations?”

A spokesman for Stonegate was unable to say when prices typically went up at the venues, saying the cost changes varied between pubs and sometimes occurred around “events”, but stressed that any increases were “marginal” and much less than £2. He said that prices fell during normal trading hours.

He added: “Stonegate Group, like all retail businesses, regularly reviews 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.”

A Little Thought:

Bigger the fool are the patrons of the chain who pay the increase, the chain will soon reconsider when they see a drop in the footfall in their bars.

Unless a very special occasion, I won't pay the extortionate prices, same thing with restaurants.

It's not about being tight, it's called principle.

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