Times are getting touch as the credit crunch bites

PUBLISHED: 20:33 15 July 2008 | UPDATED: 22:04 15 June 2010

OWNERS of a Seaton bed and breakfast are struggling to make ends meet in the current climate both economic and weather-wise.

OWNERS of a Seaton bed and breakfast are struggling to make ends meet in the current climate - both economic and weather-wise.Dave Butlin and Ann Proctor, of The Kettle, in Fore Street, said the credit crunch and rising fuel prices, along with dismal weather, was hitting them hard.Numbers staying at the lodgings were down on last year, and those who did visit were being more frugal with their money, according to the pair. Mr Butlin said the increasing cost of fuel was having a huge impact: "One man travelled down from York - it cost him £320 to do the round trip - it's not a cheap holiday now."Then food prices have gone up, too. We have seen food bills go up 100 per cent sometimes. But we've only put prices up by 10p, though."We have to plan our shopping in advance. And, when people do eat at the restaurant, they are being more careful - maybe only ordering one course."The couple are worried the recession will be long-term, maybe lasting two years. They fear next year will be even more difficult, as many people had already booked in advance this time.Mr Butlin added: "We are just trying to get through this year. If the government doesn't help us, then we are in lots of trouble."Such concerns were echoed by other bed and breakfast owners in the town.Gaynor Sedgewick, experiencing her first season at Holmleigh House in Sea Hill, said: "It hasn't been as busy as I would have anticipated. "The general sense is that people are being more cautious about spending money."But she said she was still getting a number of visitors from abroad. She also highlighted that many visitors were travelling along the Jurassic Coast via the X53 bus - which she recommended as a cheap and convenient alternative to the car.Nigel Booth, from Mariners on the Esplanade, said business was stable - but he was having to work harder to maintain it."We are reviewing a lot of outgoings and ways to cut down spending. "But it's a double whammy: food and utility costs are going up - but in order to keep full, we can't put the tariffs of rooms up."Hilary Beviss, from Beach End, in Trevelyan Road, added: "Quite a few are feeling the pinch. We are lucky because we're established and have people returning. Also, we're in a good location, by the sea."But people are less likely to travel down on the spur of the moment for a relaxing weekend."Resident Pat Robbins feels business success in a tourist town like Seaton is mainly dependent on the weather.She said: "I think business is ruled by the weather. It's like autumn at the moment. What do you do if the rain is pouring down? If the weather is nice, people will just come."And the credit crunch has been particularly damaging to the housing market. Martin Hall, branch manager at Palmer Snell estate agents, in Lyme Regis, said:"It's certainly tougher than this time last year, no doubt."Most customers are now primary residents - and not buying a second home. People are still buying, but not at the same volume as last year. "I do feel the media has exaggerated the situation slightly. "I think people are being cautious at the moment and nobody is brave enough to say how long the credit crunch will go on for. We just have to weather the storm."In contrast to other parts of the country building contractors in the area do not appear to be losing business.Stacey Dack, of Dack and Sons building and roofing contractors, in Harepath Road, said: "We're not struggling, though I suppose the phone isn't ringing as much as before. "I think it's more the bigger sites which are closing down, but most builders around here with a decent reputation seem to be working. "But, it could all change overnight."Some businesses in Seaton are prospering, despite the current situation.Alex Roder and Dan Bailey, of Daniel Alexander Interiors, in Queen Street, have doubled the size of their shop and are receiving more orders than previously. They put their success down to the fact they are not reliant on tourist trade, and receive deliveries in bulk to cut the cost of fuel and their carbon footprint.Mr Bailey said: "We've been very busy and orders are up. "I think this recession will just last the year.

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