England: "People used to tip. . . . Now, they wait for their change."

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Feyzan Ulker, 32, owns a small deli in North London, a wealthy suburb. In the past few months, he has seen about a 35 percent increase in the price of food.

"Four months ago, baguettes cost me 8.99 a bundle. Now they cost 15.99" pounds, up from about $18 to $31.50, he said. "How am I supposed to pass all of that on to my customers? I have risen prices and lost customers. It was my only choice."

He used to buy ham imported from Italy, but the prices have gone up so dramatically that he's looking for a supplier in Britain.

A couple of months ago, he changed his menu and may have to again soon. "People are not confident in their spending," he said. "People used to tip. . . . Now, they stand and wait for their change."

Ulker, who is married and has two children, said he's also paying more for his family's food. "We like quality food, so I will save on other things. I switched cars from a petrol to a diesel. We only will take one holiday this year; no more expensive clothes. So our food is the same, but the bill is higher."

But he knows people are struggling everywhere. "On top of food prices, all prices are up. . . . I'm aware that there are problems all over the world with anything that comes from the ground. It's to do with demand from China and India. They want to eat more than just rice. There's just not enough," he said.

"I don't know how long it's going to go on for, but I don't see it ending any time soon. These are hard times."

-- Karla Adam

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