Fakenham firms keen to protect customers as rate of inflation soars
- Credit: Archant
Businesses in Fakenham have revealed they are doing all they can to prevent customers from bearing the brunt of soaring inflation rates.
Traders in the market town said they had not raised prices in a bid to help shoppers and stay competitive - but admitted they may be forced to charge more in the near future.
Inflation was driven up to 5.4pc in the 12 months up to December 2020 - its highest level since 1992, when it stood at 7.1pc.
That means the cost of living for the average consumer is skyrocketing, and is expected to worsen when energy bills rise in the spring.
Denise Benbow, from Benbows greengrocers in the Market Place, said the cost of imports such as salad items and cauliflower had risen, but emphasised the need to keep prices as low as possible.
“Sometimes you have to increase the price, but we try our best to be competitive,” she said.
“With four supermarkets in the town, sometimes you see in there they are selling something for half the price we are, but you cannot even buy it for that price.
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“It [raising prices] is the last resort for us. We do not like to do it, but there comes a point when it has to be done. We would rather hurt ourselves than the customer."
Andrew Felton, who owns the Drifters fish and chip shop, said he was planning to absorb the rise in inflation for the time being.
He added: "The cost of stock is going up on a weekly basis, fish especially, and packaging has gone through the roof, but we are going to hold firm and not pass it on at this time.
“It has been tough enough, so we hope to continue to do the volume and absorb some of the rises.
“There will be a time where, unfortunately, the cost has to be passed on, but not yet."
Alie Hannam, owner of The Crown pub, has also opted to freeze prices.
She said the price of bringing in beer supplies had gone up by between 10p and 20p last year, but she is keen to stop regular customers from having to pay more.
“I’ll put them up if I have to, but will try not to," added Ms Hannam.
“We are a community pub, a place for our older regulars - many of whom live on their own. I wouldn’t want to make it unaffordable for them.”