Businesses reopening for the first time in months next week have been warned not to hike their prices – because they have already received billions in taxpayer-funded support.
Pubs, restaurants and hair salons are among the venues allowed to welcome back customers from July 4, albeit under new Covid-secure rules, which is likely to mean significantly fewer people allowed inside than before the coronavirus outbreak.
As a result, there have been suggestions that businesses could start charging more in a bid to stay afloat, particularly with some trades incurring other costs such as those involved in supplying staff with PPE.
Pubs, set to reopen next Saturday, are looking at hiring door staff and ‘greeters’ to police queues and ensure social distances are maintained inside the premises
Hair salons are among the businesses considering increasing prices, having incurred extra costs such as those involved in supplying staff with PPE
A quarter of restaurants, for example, intend to increase prices to make up for lost revenue, a poll seen by the
This way to pay for extra precautions, according to The National Hair and Beauty Federation.
Meanwhile, Tom Stainer, chief executive of the Campaign for Real Ale, said pubs were looking at hiring door staff and ‘greeters’ to police queues and ensure social distances are maintained inside the premises.
He added: ‘At a time when pub revenues are down because there are fewer customers and costs have gone up, it might be that pubs can only make it work by raising prices. I would hope pubs can avoid this or only raise prices a little, but we understand they may have to, just to remain viable.’
Elsewhere, retailers have said shortages in supplying DIY goods, homeware and cookware has led to price inflation in recent weeks.
However, government bosses will be keeping an eye on any ‘price gouging’ where customers are charged more for items than is considered reasonable or fair, which saw some traders prosecuted at the start of the pandemic.
Business minister Nadhim Zahawi said: ‘We have said we will monitor any bad behaviour in terms of price gouging and we will keep a very close eye on that and take action. That is not something businesses should be contemplating.
We will stamp it out.
‘If pubs or salons put their prices up consumers will vote with their feet. We have given over £10billion in grants to small businesses and £28billion in the bounce back loan scheme, so there has been a lot of support from the taxpayer.
‘There is also the VAT deferral, the business rates holiday, so the taxpayer has given them enormous support.’
Business minister Nadhim Zahawi said the government will monitor ‘any bad behaviour in terms of price gouging’