Pubs are being forced to ‘hibernate’ for the winter months in a desperate bid to avoid soaring energy, food and staff bills amid the cost of living crisis.
Landlords across the UK are calling last orders as early as 9pm, serving food for three hours a day and some have gone as far as using candlelight in creative efforts to avoid skyrocketing costs.
But some pubs are having to take more extreme measures and have been forced to close their doors until spring – missing out on the traditionally busy festive period.
Stella Coulthurst, landlady of The White Hart Inn in Hamstead Marshall, Berkshire, will close her pub next week and will not reopen until springtime after her electricity bill jumped three-fold to £17,500 in the last quarter alone.
Despite battling to remain open for the winter, Ms Coulthurst said she was having to pay out of her savings just to get through each month.
The sharp increase in energy costs has left landlords facing the tough choice between passing the extra burden onto loyal customers, who themselves are struggling with the rising cost-of-living, or shutting shop completely – with an increasing number opting for the latter.
Ms Coulthurst, 61, told The Times: ‘During summer we worked flat out but we couldn’t keep ahead of the price rises, and at the end of every month, after we paid everyone, we realised we had to pay out of our savings.
She added: ‘The government is going to limit the price of electricity to just double. A winter bill that is double means I just don’t have the margins to absorb what in any circumstances would be seen as a whopping price rise.’