Stonegate said the move would see prices “marginally increase in selective pubs and bars” across its managed estate during busier periods, and said the increase was to cover increased costs.
The move follows on from companies like Uber, which operates a surge pricing policy where costs for rides increases during busy periods, and is also a tactic which has long been used in the airline and hotel sectors.
A spokesperson for Stonegate said: “Like all retail businesses, [we] 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, 2 for 1 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.”
While Stonegate is the UK’s largest pub operator with more than 4,000 pubs, the pricing scheme is only being implemented in selection of its managed estate, which comprises around 800 pubs.
It is reported that notices are being placed in the pubs affected, with the wording: "Dynamic Pricing. Police Notice. Dynamic pricing is currently live in this venue during this peak trading session."
The move has not been greeted with enthusiasm on social media. One tweeter, @bigheadcomms, said: “If they push on with this there will be no such thing as a busy Stonegate pub”
Andre @skibum999 added: “I mean. How to kill your already struggling trade @Stonegate_Group Just being utterly disingenuous to your customers and ripping them off further.”
The decision follows on from previous moves which has seen Stonegate add surcharges to cover security costs during events such as England games in the World Cup, but the initiative marks a significant step forward away from major occasions.