The owners of a local grocery store in Moray have made a desperate plea for the public’s support after their monthly energy bills skyrocketed to more than £4,500.
Diane and Munish Tandon, who have run the Premier shop in Keith since 2017, felt backed into a corner after they were slammed with an eye-watering bill last week.
Although they hadn’t changed anything in terms of energy usage, the pair’s electricity bill soared an incredible amount within a month – rising from £872 to £4,569.
They were later informed by Maxen Power Supply Limited that the rates will go even higher, with Mrs Tandon estimating next month’s bill could go up to about £7,000.
But when the couple approached the company for an explanation and support, they were “shot down” and told the only leniency they can get is to pay it in two instalments.
‘We physically can’t pay for energy’
This has left them in a “ridiculous” position, resorting to switching off three of their fridges and reducing the amount of stock in their store to try and cut down costs.
Mrs Tandon said they have even been forced to turn off some of the lights in fear next month’s bill could go through the roof.
“This is the reality of the situation we are currently in,” the mother-of-two added. “It hasn’t just gone up by 50% or 100%, it’s up by 500%.
“It’s crazy. And it’s not even capped so next month my bill could go even higher.
“I genuinely don’t see how we are supposed to come out of this all singing and dancing if we can’t physically pay for our energy.
“We’ve had to switch off a couple of our fridges, so that’s reducing the amount of stock that is physically visible to customers – which then leads to fewer sales potentially.
“And it’s not just us who is going to struggle – it’s literally every single business, along with every single household.
“How are businesses supposed to survive this? It’s just impossible.”
Mounting pressure on small businesses with ‘crazy’ energy bills
Mrs Tandon is the latest small business owner in the north-east to bear the brunt of the soaring energy prices, which have left thousands struggling to make ends meet.
Last week, Jackie Wilson and Sheila Petrie, who own the popular Upperkrust sandwich shop in Aberdeen, said they would need to charge £30 a sandwich to cover costs.
It came after the Royal Crown Chinese takeaway in Torry was also forced shut after 50 years of operation due to the mounting pressure of “impossible” energy bills.
Mrs Tandon, 33, has now made a plea to the public to choose local shops over big supermarket chains to help them keep afloat – estimating she needs another 50 customers a day to make ends meet with the increased bills.
She fears that with no cap on costs for small businesses and prices expected to soar even further in future, many independent firms will be forced to fold.
She said: “If you can, spend something in your local shops, however little it is – even if it’s a small bar of chocolate, because it will be the case of use them or lose them.
“We are trying our best to keep everything as normal as possible, but you just don’t know what’s going to happen.
“The prices of stock has gone up as well, so we really have no clue what we are going to do.
“We are literally going to have to physically cut as many things as we can and make sure that we are very vigilant and savvy with everything.
“We just hope that the general public keeps shopping and supporting us. But it’s hard to keep customers coming in when they are in the same boat as us.”
Maxen Power Supply Limited has been approached for a comment.