More than a third of British pubs and restaurants have slashed their trading hours over the last three months in order to be able to cope with soaring energy costs, the country's statistics office says in a report.
The Monday report by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) said some six percent of pubs, cafes and restaurants across the UK have decided to close an extra two days a week, seven percent were open one day less, while 21 percent have reduced opening hours but not the number of days they were open.
According to the office, reduced opening times were far more common in the hospitality sector than in other parts of the British economy, where just seven percent of businesses reported this.
Many hospitality businesses also reported reduced demand as their patrons too were hit by surging energy bills since the war in Ukraine has started.
The British government announced temporary energy subsidies for businesses in September, but the ONS said this led to little change in the proportion of hospitality businesses saying energy bills were their top worry.
Last month, a trade body known as UKHospitality said over a third of the sector risked going bust early next year due to the rising cost of energy and other bills, as well as falling consumer spending. It added that staffing was a challenge too.
In late September, the Confederation of European Business raised the alarm over the energy crisis and skyrocketing cost of gas and electricity across Europe, saying they may lead to the closure of thousands of EU firms.
In an open letter to President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen, the business lobby warned that “the current state of high gas and electricity prices bears the imminent risk of production losses and shutdowns of thousands of European companies.”
BusinessEurope also called on the EU to find an urgent solution in order to keep businesses up on their feet.
The majority of European countries are grappling with the energy crisis in the wake of sanctions against energy giant Russia over its offensive in Ukraine. As a result, the EU member states are looking for ways to lessen the blow from the soaring costs.
Fears are growing over a possible recession in the Eurozone with inflation already climbing to an all-time high of 9.1 percent in August. The rate is predicted to be double-digit by the end of this year.
According to the S&P Global Ratings Company, Britain is already experiencing a full-year recession, with the British pound nosediving nearly 5 percent at one point to $1.0327, its lowest since 1971.