It has previously done so during one-off events, such as World Cups, but has now decided to introduce price variance on a more regular basis.
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”.
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.
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
Stonegate Group spokeswoman
A spokeswoman 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.”
The chief executive of another of Britain’s big pub chains, who asked not to be named, told The Guardian that the practice is not unusual and has been “going on for decades”, in the largest venues, during events and busy periods.
“They’re not the only ones doing it,” he said.
“To be honest, good for them that they’re telling people,” he said, but added that the transparency may have backfired amid dismay on social media and negative publicity.