Should pubs charge more during World Cup games?

By Claire Churchard

- Last updated on GMT

Event pricing: pub costs increase during World Cup games
Event pricing: pub costs increase during World Cup games

Related tags World Cup 2018 Stonegate pub company Price increases

Pubs have been criticised for charging more for their beer during World Cup games after an investigation by The Sun newspaper.

The newspaper reported that certain Stonegate pubs had increased the price of a pint by between 20p and 50p during matches, returning to the usual price when the game finished.

However, ‘event pricing’ is not an uncommon practice in the industry as pub operators attempt to balance out the additional costs they incur when showing big sporting events. Preparing for and broadcasting events like the World Cup require more stock, more staff, added security, and other costs like plastic glasses, extra cleaning, and potentially extended licensing hours.

The question for the industry is: should more pubs raise their prices during big events that cost more for a site to manage?

A UKHospitality spokesperson told the Morning Advertiser​: "If venues are incurring additional costs to host events, it's not unreasonable that they increase costs to some degree to cover those costs.

"Some venues implement an entry fee for special events, in this case pubs are implementing a modest increase to their drinks."

A spokesman for the Campaign for Real Ale said: "Some publicans may decide to raise prices to cover the additional costs of running a big event - such as needing to hire extra staff or rent equipment to show a big game during the World Cup.

"However, in these instances, we would urge licensees to clearly display any price increases at the bar so that customers can make an informed choice before purchasing a pint. We'd hope that World Cup fans will mark the event by supporting their local pub, but those fans need to be confident that they are paying a fair price for their pint if they are to return to the pub after the games have ended."

Event pricing

The Sun​ highlighted three sites for price increases: Yates in Manchester, where pints cost 20p more; Walkabout in Colchester, Essex, charging an extra 25p; and the Clock House Classic in Harlow, Essex, where pints were up 50p. The paper also said that the rises when the football was on were not advertised. However, a pub source told The Morning Advertiser​ that “many pubs display event pricing notices”.

In response to the pricing criticism, a Stonegate spokesperson said the pub company is not the only one to implement event pricing. “It is common practice across pubs, bars and entertainment venues to implement event pricing when big events take place to ensure customers have an experience in which they can be served quickly, remain safe and enjoy the occasion.  

Increased costs

“Any increases in cost covers the requirements of additional staff, security, cleaning and those associated with satisfying and complying with a number of licensing requirements, including the use of polycarbonate glasses. Therefore proportionate increases ranging from 10p to 50p applies on certain products in certain venues,” the spokesperson added.

However, the practice has upset some local punters. One told The Sun​: “It’s disgraceful. We’re calling it the Three Lions Tax. It is across the board from pints to Coke.

“The problem is lots of people in the pubs for matches aren’t regulars so they don’t know the difference. They hand over what they’re charged. But it’s unfair to locals.”

Table charges

A Chatham pub's decision to charge £50 for a table of eight to secure the best view of the England v Columbia World Cup game has prompted a social media backlash.

The Command House advertised the six paid for tables on Twitter, which includes table service so customers "never miss a minute of the game".

However, locals expressed dismay, branding the pub "greedy".

Jonathon Mclean, media manager at the pub, told Kent Online that the tables have been popular.

“We’re not charging people to watch [the game], you can still come to the garden and watch it for free. It’s just the front six tables and they get table service throughout the match. The message got a bit misconstrued and taken out of context.”


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