Some pubs of the discount-friendly chain charge up to £10 more than others for the same food and drink order.
The scale of the price differentiation across Wetherspoon pubs has been properly analysed for the first time by the Financial Times.
Wetherpoon’s explains this on its website, but does not otherwise make it clear to the customer their pint could be cheaper in neighbouring towns.
The pub chain states: “For various reasons, such as rents, rates, staffing, local competition and so on, food and drinks prices may vary per pub. This tends to be the case with all pubs, in general.
“What we do try to achieve, however, is having the lowest prices, on average, in each location where we operate.”
Journalist Bryce Elder used the chain’s smartphone app to ‘place’ a fairly classic order at 213 separate branches: one burger, a chicken tikka masala, one chocolate brownie, a pint of Doom Bar and a bottle of Birra Moretti.
While pennies added on a pint aren’t too noticeable – unless you happen to be a very discerning drinker – the gulf in billing becomes apparent with multiple items.
For example, the report found that were you to order the above at a branch in suburban Birmingham, you would spend £10.96 less than if you would were you to buy the exact same food and drink at one of the most expensive Wetherspoon pubs, found in Greater Manchester.
It is important to note the methodology to the analysis: it doesn’t assess every Spoons, of which there aren’t far off 1,000 throughout the UK.
Rather, “the idea here is to get a feel for price architecture, not to measure extremes of prices. The sample aims to be representative, not comprehensive.”
The i asked Spoons if it could explain its pricing strategy a little further.
Company spokesman Eddie Gershon replied: “[It’s] because rents and rates vary so much across all parts of the UK. All we can do is to be competitive against other pubs in the respective area.”
Tim Martin, JD Wetherspoon chairman, added: “We charge the same delivery costs to each pub, wherever it is.”
In fact, there doesn’t seem to be much a socio-economic pattern to the pub chain’s pricing. A Pornstar Martini in Windsor will set you back £5.95; in Camden, £10.35.