Shops hit with their fifteenth power cut in just seven months say it has cost them customers as well as thousands of pounds.

More than 15 businesses in Ballards Lane and High Road, North Finchley, have been affected by the cuts, with the latest lasting four hours today.

Photography store Diamond Photos had to turn away 20 customers because it could not switch its computers on, while customers fled darkened cafés where owners had no choice but to throw away food sitting in redundant refrigerators.

Oualid Reghis, who set up Boulangerie Joie De Vie café in December 2012, told the Times Series the power cuts have cost him between £5,000 and £6,000.

He said: “Customers are leaving, we’re throwing away so much food and losing a lot of money. Sausages, chicken, cheese all has to go in the bin because I can’t risk giving it to my customers. I’ve already thrown away about one and a half tonnes of food.

“It’s really hard to run a business in this economic climate but this is making it even harder. I can’t keep running a business like this – I’ll have to move from North Finchley if this keeps on happening.

"It's destroying our businesses - it’s really sad.”

Sonya Safdag, who owns Café Mélange, said it is "embarrassing” when she has to turn customers away because the cafe has no power.

She said: “I’m afraid it’s happened so much, they won’t come back. Something needs to be done to fix the problem permanently.”

The shops lost their power four times over the Christmas period, the busiest time of year for most businesses.

Amar Shah, manager at Diamond Photos, said: “We had all our sales on because it’s the busiest time for us, but without power we couldn’t do anything. It’s been really bad.”

The post office was also temporarily closed today and a sign was pasted in the window apologising to customers.

UK Power Networks, which supplies electricity in North Finchley, has apologised to customers, blaming the power cuts on faulty equipment.

A spokeswoman for the company said: “The power cuts have been caused by a fault on a piece of equipment in one of our substations which has now been identified and will be repaired as a matter of urgency.

“We know how frustrating and difficult it can be to be without power and apologise for any inconvenience.

“Sometimes complex faults do occur which can be difficult to trace and we would like to reassure our customers that we are beginning work with immediate effect to ensure repairs are made as quickly as is safely possible.

“Due to the complexity of the work, this is expected to be completed by next Friday, January 17 and we are hopeful that this will be a permanent solution to the problems being experienced.”