ONS inflation: “This is no cost of living squeeze, it’s outright strangulation”, says small business owner

Following on from the ONS CPI inflation data published this morning, here are the views of a selection of small business and charity owners.

Dr Jackie Mulligan, expert on the Government’s High Streets Task Force and founder of the local shopping platform, ShopAppy: “This is no cost of living squeeze, it’s outright strangulation. The current trajectory of inflation poses an existential threat to independent retailers around the UK. If things carry on like this, the term profit margin will disappear from the English dictionary altogether. The thousands of bricks and mortar retail businesses we work with are having to cope with rising costs across the board at the same time as customers, understandably, are having to rein in their spending as their disposable income is being hit with a sledgehammer. Independent retailers already have five and a half times more debt than they had pre-pandemic, and the rate at which inflation is rising will push many off the high street altogether, impacting communities and people’s access to local services. In the absence of Government support, customers need to do whatever they can to support their local businesses. Use them or lose them.”

Olga Sipcenoka, founder of Hertfordshire-based restaurant Per Tutti: “As a family-run business, the worry about inflation is crippling and with each day that passes we can feel its impact on our bottom line. Suppliers call every week with new price increases, which is really stressful. For now, we haven’t increased our prices as we have to be in line with our local competitors including some very big chains, and our current dilemma is how long we will be able to swallow the extra costs without passing them onto the customer. And if we do put prices up, how well will it be taken by our guests? Will they be able to afford to dine out as much as they do now? We are a family of five and these are really worrying times. We are preparing ourselves for a recession, as the UK economy is currently facing a perfect storm.”

Nicola Bulbeck, chair of the trustees at Shepton Mallet-based Happy Landings Animal Rescue: “With bills rising across the board, we are starting to have to rescue a lot more animals as a result of people struggling to cover the costs of home and pet ownership, and we expect this to only increase over the coming year. We are a small local charity but with inflation continuing to rise, and with costs going up across the board, like many others in our sector we will be considering whether it remains viable to keep going. Despite the Government attempting to step in, of the £750m it pledged, over three quarters of it went into supporting people-based charities, which while not wrong, leaves the under-represented animal rescue charities seriously underfunded.”

Gillian Ferguson of Scotland-based Twisted Empire Bakes: “My profit margins are being obliterated. We’re now effectively making another mortgage payment for gas and electricity, while the energy companies are reporting record profits. You couldn’t print how I feel about this.”

Marianne Clarke, owner of pet portrait and grooming company, Selston Groom and Train: “Rising energy bills and the cost of living crisis mean we have stopped putting our heating on when we are cold. I now only use the heating to dry clothes. I wear my dressing gown on top of my normal clothes all the time unless I am working. The cost of everything just seems to be going up and up.”

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