Movie theaters, airlines, and many other businesses like to charge customers different prices based on time of the day, age, and purchase dates. Why? Movie theaters, airlines, and many other businesses like to charge customers different prices based on time of the day, age, and purchase dates. Why?

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Supply and demand often dictate these pricing decisions. Airlines want to fill the planes as full as possible all of the time, just like movie theaters. Sometimes it is easier to do this, and sometimes it is harder. During the time periods where filling the seats is more difficult (demand is lower), prices drop to lure in customers. 

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Businesses will sell their goods or services at whatever price they think will get them the most sales for the least cost.  It makes sense then to charge more for more popular times, because you will still make money.  At times that might be less popular, you can charge less to lure people in.  Giving discounts to some people, such as children, also encourages those customers to bring other customers with them so that they will make more money in the end.
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Pricing is typically due to supply and demand.  If a firm is lowering its prices, it shows that the firm does not think that it can attract enough people at that time or on that date.  

There is also the idea of letting people in for lower prices if you think you can make more money in other ways.  For example, you let kids in at lower prices and that allows you to get their parents in as well.  (Movies)  And when you get them all in, you sell them popcorn and such and make money that way.

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There are lots of reasons.

A movie theater rents the movies it shows. In order to maximize revenue, and profits, the theater might charge less in the afternoon, when there are normally less patrons. Perhaps they would like to see more adults in the theater (adults have more money to spend on food and drinks which are profit producers) so they charge a lower fee.

Airlines have to bring their planes back to their home, so they might charge reduced fares on return trips to try to fill the plane. They might offer discounts for advance purchases, because then they can plan their business better. Airlines might reduce fees for frequent fliers, hoping to get repeat business. Or they might hope that the frequent flier will upgrade to business class, etc...

Some businesses might raise costs -- if demand is too high at a particular time then they charge more.

Older customers tend to be more "brand" loyal, so giving seniors discounts, etc... might help with continued business.

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