PUB owners are hoping they can weather the storm amid soaring energy costs which campaigners say could lead to the closure of establishments.
It is feared that thousands of pubs could close as owners would have to raise the price of a pint to ‘ridiculous’ amounts – almost as much as £20 – to cover the huge rise in energy bills.
Tom Stainer, managing director of Campaign for Real Ale (Camra), said it was not “sustainable” for homeowners to raise prices in line with their rising energy bills.
Although huge price hikes are not yet expected, pubs say they face uncertain times – but hope their customers will support them.
Last week we reported how The Fontmell in Fontmell Magna near Shaftesbury, had to cease operations as they revealed their utility bills alone had risen by £58,000.
Lyn Mackenzie, owner of The Belvedere in High West Street, Weymouth, said: ‘I’m lucky to be a free house so I can buy where I want, but all vendors are increasing so it’s a constant battle to avoid to hit the consumer.
“We hope the social aspect and community support will continue to be the reason people use ads as much as they can, and we’re so grateful to our customers for all of their continued support.”
She added: ‘It doesn’t help that producers have invested money in supermarkets this year and are not supporting pubs which is contributing to reduced trade as everyone is feeling the financial pressure.’
Katy Jones, manager of Tom Brown’s in Dorchester, said: ‘We are really worried about the winter as we are a winter pub – we are busier then – and we have seen a drop in trade.
“A customer told me she didn’t even want to turn on her oven because she was worried about the costs.”
Sophie Gardiner, manager of the Boot Inn on High West Street, Weymouth, said: ‘We have a really solid base and we think our open fires will attract people. We are a brewery run pub and have already had our prices increased twice this year so we don’t think this will happen again.
The bosses of six of the UK’s biggest pubs and breweries, including Greene King, Carlsberg Marston’s and Drake & Morgan, have signed an open letter to the government, urging it to act to avoid ‘real and serious irreversible’ damage to the sector.
Rich Gabe of West Dorset‘s Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA) said: ‘I can see a lot of businesses closing as a result and a lot of breweries the cost of producing beer will be passed on to customers as they are going to have to raise their prices.
“Soon we will see local businesses closing down and once those businesses are gone they will be gone forever, I just hope the government steps in before it’s too late.”