THEY’RE out on the road every day – delivering romantic gestures and birthday greetings all over Hampshire.

But as the Daily Echo launches the Don’t Be a Fuel Fool campaign, small businesses in the region such as florists have revealed the true impact of the petrol price hike.

Not only are transport and delivery costs rising at a rate that companies can hardly keep up with, but people are also cutting down on the luxuries that keep many businesses afloat.

Lee Ackerman, joint owner of The Flower Shop, which is based in Bitterne, says they’re experiencing a double squeeze.

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He said: “The increase in fuel prices means we’re having to absorb additional costs into the business – we can’t put up the delivery charges in what remains challenging economic times.

“But we’re finding the business is being impacted in two ways; firstly our deliveries are costing more and secondly people have less money to spend.

“If people are having to spend more on fuel, flowers are a luxury and there’s inevitably going to be an effect on our business, with people buying less flowers.

“I think something has got to be done – the Government has really got to think about not going ahead with increasing fuel duty because things are getting out of hand.”

Small companies that offer limousine rides or weddings cars are facing a similar problem.

Chris Porter, owner of Active 8 Limos, based in Southampton, says he has to do another job to make ends meet.

He said: “It’s ridiculous – at the garage near me the signs showing the price are like fruit machines – changing all the time.

“I would really like to do the limos full time but due to the prices, people just aren’t using them as much as they used to.

“It’s really affecting my profits.”