December 8, 2023

The Edgars Road bakery in Melbourne’s northern region, Berkay Iris, is counting change. A senior woman spreads coins on the counter. Without asking, he selects her order. It’s an old-fashioned customer service. Iris knows everyone’s name, what they’re buying, and what their families look like.

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He believes that people are always talking about the cost of living crisis. He is at the bakery a few days per week. During the week, most customers still receive their regular orders, but some may be skipping sweets.

“Everything’s going up and nothing’s going down,” Iris declares.

The rising cost of everything from electricity to flour indicates they are entering an uneasy dance with customers.

As with many small enterprises, they’re at the apex of a crisis, losing funds to high expenses, but if they do not pass these costs on to their customers will leave them to the larger companies.

Iris says that the most dangerous thing they can do now is surprise people.

“We’re trying to space them out,” he says. “So it’s not like one day the bread is $3.50, the next it’s $4.”

Edgars Road Bakery sits inside the small shopping center located in Thomastown. The town already has an extremely high mortgage stress rate of 65.4 percent, which will increase with recent increases. The council recently announced that it will require 34,000 affordable homes to meet the demand.

The bakery is next to an eatery for fish and chips that Sam Yongquan and his mom have operated since 2020.

Since they purchased the store, the cost of minced meat has nearly doubled. Eggs in a carton have increased from $45 to $70, and fish prices have gone up from $17 per kilo to $28.

The prices have increased for fish – the price has risen from $6.15 to $7.00. However, they’re losing $500 per week in sales.

In a second trend, he’s observed that more and more people are entering the shop to look for jobs.

“A lot of people can’t find a job,” Yongquan says.

In the IGA next door, the Manager, Peter, who wants to avoid his last name being used, says they’ve only noticed an increase in just one thing theft. “It’s quieter, and there’s a large amount of theft. That’s the way it is,” he says.

Customers are spending less money on sweets and meats. The top seller right these days is specials on items.

Luke Achterstraat, chief executive of the Council of Small Business Organisations Australia Luke Achterstraat, chief executive officer of the Council of Small Business Organisations Australia The current interest rate reduction from the Reserve Bank is welcome; however, it is “not an improvement” for the members. Who is stuck in “survival mode.”

Rents, energy, and prices are rising, and the RBA still needs to be finished increasing the cost of borrowing. A lot of firms are forced other than to take out loans at rates that exceed 10% and are often secured by mortgages with lower rates.

Pay raises of 5.75 percent and an additional 0.5 percent for super are also in place this week for employees with various industry awards.

It’s not just takeaway and red meat that people are cutting down on. In Preston, Rob Price runs Raccoon Bar.

Their house pints are still $10. It’s almost unheard of in the North. However, they’ve seen the patrons’ numbers slow down.

“People are just coming in a little less frequently,” Price states. “It’s a mix of things that could be the reason.) the effects of a Covid hangover or the lower income and health-related causes.

“A lot of places will go to the wall over the next 12 months – it’ll be from a combination of landlords not understanding the situation and our customers paying higher interest rates.”

Additionally, many small business owners are concerned about their mortgages. The owners of Lalor, Lulu, and Ahmed Khalil operate the Lebanese bakery. Lulu claims they’ve been losing a few customers in recent months due to people eating less.

“They can’t afford it,” Lulu declares. “Most of people have families. If you’re looking for to buy a pie we sold them for $4. Now, they’re up to $5. This has had a huge influence on how we conduct business.”

The Khalils have four children and have been forced to reduce their spending. “Our interest rates are through the roof,” she states. “It’s just a matter of making ends meet now.”

However, her mother has a pension and has had to reduce her spending on everything she’s worried about the most.

“I just wish there was more help,” Lulu states. “I wish they could just have some availability of support for the ones that are struggling.”

Sandy Chong, chief executive and director of the Australian Hairdressing Council, who manages Suki Hairdressing in Newcastle, says that customers are spreading out their appointments, and last-minute Covid and flu cancellations have now been a considerable problem.

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