Turkish shopkeepers post exorbitant electricity bills in windows in protest

Shopkeepers throughout Turkey have started to post their exorbitant electricity bills on their windows, calling on the government to ease the burden of their utility bills.

Duvar English

Shopkeepers and restaurant owners in Turkey are speaking out over surging energy bills, with some having posted notices on windows showing ballooning electricity bills.

For some businesses, electricity bills tripled within a month. Enterprises are saying that they can no longer cope with the exorbitant prices and have come to the point of bankruptcy. "Withdraw the price hikes; We cannot make ends meet," wrote several on their windows. 

According to reporting by Bloomberg HT, some small restaurants and cafes started to charge their customers with an entrance fee, in order to cover their expenses, mainly heating.

Some restaurants are no longer accepting customers who place an order less than 30-40 Turkish Liras; whereas some are demanding 5-15 liras per hour for heating expenses. 

In the western province of Bursa, shopkeepers that struggled to pay their electricity bills started laying-off workers.

The owner of an off-license complained that his usual monthly electricity bill of 5,000 liras rose to 15,000 liras in January. A pastry shop owner said his usual monthly electricity bill of 2,500 liras increased to 8,500 liras last month.

Some business-owners do not even dare look at the bills they receive.

Necip Köksal, a café owner, said that his monthly bill rose from 950 liras to 3,300 liras and pointed out that everything in his 75-square meter shop runs with electricity, as there is no natural gas. “We can hardly afford the staff. Sometimes I pay the staff with money out of my own pocket,” Köksal lamented.

Mehmet Erkaya, one of the restaurant owners on Bursa’s Arapşükrü Street, now dims his lights as his monthly electricity bill increased from 9,000 liras to 23,000 liras.

“We will go out and protest. If we get another bill like this, we won’t be able to run this shop,” Erkaya said, adding that he had laid off two of his staff.

Mehmet Erkaya also said that within two months, the number of customers he received at the restaurant had been halved. “We fired two of the six personnel, and we will gradually fire the rest if this carries out,” he sighed.

Another restaurant owner, Celal Çelik said that he had yet to receive an electricity bill. “Half of our revenue goes to electricity bills,” he said. “Electricity now costs more than rent.”

The owner of the restaurant Arap Şükrü Aydın said that, while in the past, one could not get a place at his restaurant on Fridays and Saturdays without a reservation, nowadays, no reservations are ever made on Saturdays.

Inflation leaped to near 50% in January, raising the cost of living for Turks already struggling to make ends meet after a currency crash in December sparked by President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan's unorthodox low interest rates policy.

The government has raised the minimum wage by 50% this year in response to the turmoil. But it also hiked prices for gas, power, petrol and road tolls to account for import price volatility, straining household budgets and deepening poverty.