The group announced yesterday (12 September) that it would raise the price of pints during its busiest trading hours by 20p in some venues to offset higher costs.
The ‘dynamic pricing’ system has been introduced in c800 venues during evenings and weekends to help cover the cost of extra staffing, licensing requirements, and additional security.
Not the right solution
However, the Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA) chief executive Tom Stainer described the move as "troubling".
“We know pubs and brewers are having a difficult time at the moment, but we don’t think an extra charge penalising customers that want to support the industry is not the right solution.
“Our fear is that it could convince people to stay away", he said.
Though chief executive of the British Institute of Innkeeping (BII), Steven Alton, said Stonegate's introduction of dynamic pricing was “indicative of the reality of operating costs right now where pubs are trying to find any opportunity to deliver decent margins”.
Already in use
Meanwhile, Loungers chairman Alex Reilley tweeted that several other businesses already used dynamic pricing.
He wrote: “A number of city centre brands do this already (and have done for some time) – at least Stonegate have been honest about telling their customers. Maybe hotels and airlines should charge a flat fee and maybe Greggs and Costa should charge the same in service stations as they do on the [high street].
“In this case Stonegate are being criticised for being transparent – tons of businesses in a number of sectors operate dynamic pricing and don’t tell their customers.”