“He’s putting up prices because his pub’s too full??? It don’t make sense.” Billy Whizz’s post on X (formerly Twitter) summed up many people’s reaction to the announcement that Stonegate, Britain’s largest pub group, would be raising prices during peak times (typically 5-7pm) by 20p a pint to cover the cost of hiring more bar staff and bouncers and buying more polycarbonate glasses to cope with demand.
Consumer expert Harry Wallop defended the policy, known as dynamic pricing, saying: “They’re trying to reduce the crush in the pub at a busy time and encourage you to go at a quieter time.”
Somewhere in the middle, between Whizz and Wallop, was an anonymous punter, drinking in Stonegate’s Coach House pub near Piccadilly Circus, who told a journalist: “I’m so used to paying through the nose for drinks that nothing surprises me anymore.”
There is nothing new about dynamic pricing – as any parent who has tried to book a family vacation during the school holidays can testify. Indeed, the practice is so well established it recently inspired a ‘Dictionary Corner’ entry in Private Eye, which is worth quoting in full because the two definitions capture the debate so well: