Gorleston business warns of 'tough times' as inflation peaks

Karolyn Hubbard and Margo's Lounge

Margo's Lounge owner, Karolyn Hubbard, said the simultaneous rise in costs is daunting. - Credit: Archant

A Gorleston business owner has predicted "tough times ahead" as national inflation rises to a 30 year high.

The Consumer Price Index shows that inflation rose to 5.4pc in December - the largest increase since 1992 when it stood at 7.1pc.

Karolyn Hubbard, owner of Margo's Lounge on Bell's Road, said she is daunted by so many cost increases happening at once, such as fuel prices as well.

Margo's owner Karolyn Hubbard with the cake. Pictures: BRITTANY WOODMAN

Margo's owner Karolyn Hubbard. - Credit: Archant

Ms Hubbard said: "There are tough times ahead.

"Price increases from coffee beans to butter are having a noticeable difference on our costs. 

"For example, a box of 40 unsalted butter packs has risen from £45.00 to £60.50, over 15pc for just on one product.

"April looms over us small business owners with so many rises that go unseen by our lovely customers.

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"Wages, pension contributions, national insurance contributions, heating - the list is endless.

"Whilst I believe the minimum wage should increase - my staff work incredibly hard and have been loyal and supportive throughout - everything rising at the same time is daunting.

"Menu prices will inevitably have to rise but will that stop people being able to afford to get out and socialise?

"I feel the government has been fair in supporting hospitality during the last couple of years.

"Instead of giving us grants, I would suggest a cap on commercial fuel and VAT price increases."

Ros's Fruit and Vegetable stall on Great Yarmouth market.

Ros Cleland said her costs have increased in line with inflation. - Credit: James Weeds

Ros Cleland, from Ros’s Fruit & Vegetables, has been running her stall on Great Yarmouth market for over 30 years.

Ms Cleland, 66, said: "Across the board, produce is dearer for everyone - businesses included - and it is getting harder to get.

"Many people think I'm dearer than supermarkets anyway.

"But whereas I buy one box, supermarkets can get a lorry load for much less."

Ms Cleland said her customers' shopping habits have not changed recently.

Great Yarmouth's town centre was busy ahead of wider re-openings on Saturday, July 4. Photo: Sarah B

Great Yarmouth's town centre was busy ahead of wider re-openings on Saturday, July 4. Photo: Sarah Burgess - Credit: Archant

Jonathon Newman, the manager of Great Yarmouth Town Centre Partnership, said: "Rising inflation, along with the predicted massive increase in energy costs, is likely to significantly impact the disposable income that people have for spending on leisure and non-essentials shopping which could have a knock on effect on consumer spending in the town centre."

A spokesperson from Norfolk Citizen's Advice Bureau said: "We would normally see a peak in clients coming to us to discuss debt cases in February in normal years but, nationally we reached that point in November. 

"Last years' changes to Universal Credit, the pandemic's impact on employment, the jump in gas prices, and the related relationship and mental health complications are all part of this increase. 

"But the growth in inflation is particularly concerning as it will affect more people in more ways and we expect to see a continuous increase in clients experiencing issues with debt, benefits, housing and utilities."

Simon Baldry, of Access Community Trust, which works to prevent people becoming socially excluded, said that the bite is already being felt by people.
He said: “We are already seeing a number of people use our services as food prices and heating prices increase.
“Soon services like internet, telephone and other services will be impacted.
“I would say to people don’t suffer in silence as we can signpost to services that will help them.

What can people do?

Norfolk Citizen Advice Bureau encouraged readers who have money concerns to contact Norfolk Citizens Advice, via www.ncab.org.uk or one of their offices across Norfolk.

"It's very important to understand your finances, know what you can afford, and understand what help you can call on," a spokesperson said.

"Do this when you first start worrying and it will be easier to find ways of avoiding bigger problems later on. 

"Councils and responsible companies should also be open to conversations about problems with bills and help in finding a reasonable way to structure repayments. If this is not successful, we can advise on mediation routes and ways of gaining time to plan finances and reduce anxiety."