‘Urgent relief’ needed as inflation hits 40-year high

By Amelie Maurice-Jones

- Last updated on GMT

Fragile sector: Help needed for businesses as inflation hits 9.1% (Getty/ Tijana Simic)
Fragile sector: Help needed for businesses as inflation hits 9.1% (Getty/ Tijana Simic)

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Hospitality “urgently needs relief” as inflation hits a 40-year peak of 9.1%, further barring businesses from profitability, warned trade bodies.

The rate of inflation hit 9.1% for May – the fastest rise in 40 years – according to the latest figures from the Office of National Statistics released this morning.

British Institute of Innkeeping chief executive Steve Alton said: “Our members are only just beginning to rebuild their businesses after the last two years of closures and disruption. The busy summer months provide a much-needed opportunity to help them recover, however they will have to trade at even higher levels than 2019 to just stand still.”

He believed the high rate of inflation would be “yet another barrier” to profitability for members whose businesses were “incredibly fragile” at the moment.

Rising prices

“We continue to make the case directly to Government to secure the long term support that our members will need to allow them to be at the centre of levelling up and regeneration at the heart of every community,” he added.

Rising food and non-alcoholic beverage prices were the single biggest contributor to the high inflation rate, with all categories seeing price increases in the year. Staples like meat, bread and cereals as well as the largest contributors to food price inflation between April and May 2022.

British Beer and Pub Association chief executive Emma McClarkin said: “As inflation hits a record high our pub and brewing businesses are finding it difficult to make ends meet.

“Hospitality businesses are simultaneously battling with rising costs on everything from fuel to food whilst their customers tighten their belts and decide to stay home rather than spend any extra funds they might have in their local.”

Cutting costs

She concluded: “We urgently need relief because the cost-of-living crisis is also a cost of doing business crisis.” 

Night Time Industries Association chief executive Michael Kill said: "Our industry is suffering heavily from rising costs, as inflation reaches 9.1%, with m most reporting an estimated loss of up to 40% in trade from the national rail strike.

“Our sector is at a critical point in our recovery, as we embark on one of the most important summer festival season for our live sector. Anger and frustration is growing, as it feels for many like they are being drawn back to business levels experienced during Covid lockdowns.”

Indeed, gastropub chefs across the country have taken measures​ to combat inflation like cutting down portion sizes, swapping meat and fish for cheaper cuts and negotiating with suppliers.

“In a nutshell, it's a nightmare. Every dish is under constant review, and we’re doing different styles of dishes we've not previously done,” said Marc Bridgen, owner of the Dog at Wingham in Kent.

Furthermore, according to Brendan Padfield, owner of the Unruly Pig in Bromeswell, Suffolk, inflation was a “plague on everyone’s house”.

“Inevitably, some accommodations need to be made as we try and balance this very difficult, inflationary equation with what the customer is willing to pay,” he said.

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