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Big crisis and small businesses: shops, bakeries and Albanian cafes

In the UK, thousands of small basic goods shops (known as corner shops) are facing closure due to rising energy costs unless they receive a £575 million government aid. The Association of Convenience Stores (ACS), a trade body representing 48,000 local shops employing 405,000 staff, claims that energy bills for retail outlets have more than doubled reaching on average £45,000.

Albania is a country of coffee drinkers and, until recently, the number of operating coffee shops per capita has been impressive, reaching 654 outlets per 100,000 inhabitants. However, according to the Albanian Association of Bars and Restaurants in Tirana, due to the rising costs of energy and products as well as the savings that residents are opting for, up to half of the cafes are closing down. Following the pandemic and the resulting restrictions, the crisis in the cost of living has caused inflation to soar, while salaries remain among the lowest in Europe. One third of Albanians are at risk of falling below the poverty line.

Rising prices for electricity, gas and grain may trigger closure of German bakeries. According to Max Kugel, owner of a small outlet in Bonn, only large chains and thriving artisan bakeries will survive. In his bakery, considered one of the best in the area, a loaf of wholemeal bread currently costs €6.60. Kugel says the way to survive is to reduce reliance on natural gas and invest in photovoltaics and a heat pump.

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