As customers cut back, businesses feeling pinch

HERNANDO, MS (WMC-TV) - Many Mid-Southerners are surviving the economic crisis by cutting back. But the services many people are cutting out are also cutting the pay for workers.

The economic crisis is weighing heavily on the minds of Mid-Southerners, and for one small business owner in Hernando, staying afloat is a daily struggle.

It's another busy lunch hour for restaurant owner Lois Williams, but with the sagging economy is changing people's spending habits. Williams said making ends meet has become quite the challenge.

"My groceries have almost doubled. The gas, the electricity to run the place. Everything over the last year has gone up tremendously," Williams said.

Kellie Burke is a regular customer but says ' caused her to cut back on eating out. Still, she understands the struggle and does her part to help.

"I always try to tip between 15-20 percent and at nicer restaurants even 20-25 percent," Burke said.

Aubrie Burk is a hair stylist. She said that tips have not necessarily decreased, the frequency of her customers has. And that does make a difference.

"I wouldn't say the tipping has changed, but they're just not coming in as regular to save money and cut back. When they're in, they still tip the same, but they are not coming in as much," Burk said.

Williams has owned Juddlo's restaurant in Hernando for three years. She loves her customers, but If things don't turn around she may have to close the doors by this time next year.

"We depend on people who walk in off the street everyday. A year ago you could come here and probably not find a seat 4 out of 5 days a week. You can find a seat everyday for the last three months," Williams said.

Williams said she raised some of her prices about 10 percent, but it is not really enough to make a profit. For now, she is hanging in there.

Click here to e-mail Chip Washington.