Reports claim that Stonegate Group, the owner of Slug & Lettuce and Yates Pubs, will use “dynamic pricing,” which means it will charge more for drinks at busy times.

Stonegate Group owns popular pub chains Slug & Lettuce and Yates. According to the latest reports, it has announced that its customers will pay more during peak times.

According to BBC, Stonegate Group is using “dynamic pricing” at night and on weekends in “800” of its “4,000” pubs. The BBC has revealed that Stonegate will charge “about 20p per pint,” but other price adjustments have not been announced.

According to BBC, the price increase is being implemented to “reflect higher costs” Stonegate Group has had to contend with. It also covers “extra security”.

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A spokesperson for Stonegate Group responded to New Food by saying: “Stonegate Group reviews pricing regularly, as do all retail businesses. This is to control costs but also ensure that we provide great value to our customers.

“Our dynamic pricing allows us to offer a variety of promotions, including happy hours, 2-for-1 cocktail deals, and discounts on various food and beverage products at different times and days during the week.

The spokesperson explained that “this flexibility could mean on occasion, prices may increase marginally in certain pubs and bars because of increased costs incurred by the business due to additional staffing requirements or licensing requirements like additional door team employees.”

The decision to raise prices in some “selected pubs and bars” has caused quite a stir. Will the rationale for price increases inspire other pub chains to adopt similar strategies?

Mixed emotions and “Happy Hour”

St Paul’s London branch sells the Pornstar Martini at PS13.50, while its Blackpool location sells it for PS12.00. It is not yet known if there will be any additional price variations following Stonegate’s implementation of “dynamic pricing.”

Stonegate Group’s Slug & Lettuce Pubs offer a “Happy Hour,” which is a designated time of the day when certain beverages are discounted.

The cost of living crisis may make consumers hesitant to gather with family and friends to drink socially.

According to Statista, the best time to visit a British pub is Friday or Saturday. Over half of those who responded to their survey chose these days. A quarter of respondents said they went to the pub on Thursdays or Wednesdays.

According to BBC, Stonegate Group said UK consumers would be informed of the new pricing through notices posted in pubs.

Will this decision leave consumers with a bad taste in their mouths? There are 4 Slug & Lettuce locations in London alone. Will consumers choose to spend their evenings in London, where “Thirsty Fridays” is popular, to avoid paying higher rates for drinks during peak hours? Will they consider the reasons and spend more at peak times?

New Food published a report last year stating that one-third of hospitality businesses may go bankrupt by 2023. According to the survey, 35 percent of respondents “expect to be operating at loss or being unviable by end of 2022”.

In the fall of 2023, the UK hospitality sector is still recovering from the COVID-19 Pandemic. Deloitte states that “the impact [of the pandemic] is expected to recede in Q3 2023 but issues related to rising inflation are increasing” within the industry.

Explaining the logic

The concept of price increases at peak times is not new. National Rail increases the price of train tickets during busy commuter hours. They also offer “super off-peak,” off-peak,” and “off-peak” tickets for “less busy weekdays or weekends.”

Stonegate Group may be putting consumers’ trust in danger by implementing “dynamic prices” at its pubs. A tweet that called the decision a “rip-off” received 11,800 views and 42 likes in under 24 hours.

As explained by New Food, there are reasons behind the implementation of “dynamic pricing.” The Stonegate spokesperson claims that the decision was made due to the “increased cost demands of the business, with additional staffing requirements or licensing requirements, such as additional front team members.”

Stonegate claims that higher rates during peak hours will allow them to offer discounted rates in less busy times, such as their “Happy Hour” or 2-for-1 offers. However, the overall footfall could be affected, though it’s unclear to what extent.