TIME could be called on some local venues as pressures rise due to the cost-of-living crisis.

That’s the view of Jeff Ellis, secretary of the Fife Fife Licensed Trade Association, who has expressed fears that some businesses will not last the winter as costs rise and the hospitality sector continues its attempts to recover from the pandemic.

Just last week, Monty’s in Guildhall Street announced it was cutting its hours as it struggled with increasing costs which have seen a 400 per cent rise in its gas and electricity bills.

Back in July, the Haberdashery Bar in the city centre shut its doors.

A post on its Facebook page said coronavirus and its restrictions had been the start of the downturn and the recent cost of living and price rises had meant they had been unable to recover enough for the business to be viable.

Mr Ellis said he feared it was unlikely to be the last place to close.

“It is probable that a number of businesses will not survive the winter and of course this applies to many sectors,” he said. “We thought the pandemic was bad but this situation is existential for a lot of operators.

“Small to medium-sized businesses do not benefit from the energy price caps and some pubs have already seen their energy bills go up by thousands of percentage points. This will prove to be a perfect storm as all supply costs will be impacted by the energy crisis and those costs will only partially be transferable to retail prices.

“Insurance premiums have doubled in some cases as the insurance companies attempt to claw back money paid out against COVID business interruption claims, even in cases where those claims were denied. All this is coinciding with growing constraints on discretionary expenditure so hospitality businesses are being pressured from both sides.”

Mr Ellis said he believed more people would decide enough is enough and sell up.

He explained: “The hospitality sector has one further factor that is likely to be an issue. The average age of licensees is – to put it delicately – biased towards the autumnal years and a large number of owners are keen to retire.

“Although property sales are still taking place, the supply greatly outweighs the demand, with a consequent impact of property values. After the difficulties posed by the pandemic, a lot of owners will decide enough is enough and simply walk away.”