A retailer who is set to close his pet shop after 20 years despairs over the future of High Street trade after admitting he can barely afford to support himself.
According to a report in the Clacton Gazette, it has been a tough year for Mel Christmas, 66, who took over the running of 4 Pets, in the Essex seaside town back in 2000 from his brother, who was diagnosed with cancer.
Since then he says he has gone ‘above and beyond’ to offer a useful service, including pet care advice for customers, but over the past two years trade has declined sharply.
“Business has dropped from around £5,000 a week to £2,000 per week,” he told the local newspaper. “I was born in Walton in 1952, I went to Clacton County High School, I am a part of this community, but I feel like the town needs to wake up.
“I got out of the old building we occupied 18 months ago, which was falling down around my ears, and moved further along the High Street. Now the Post Office is shutting in June, Marks and Spencer has gone and there have been rumours about Argos going as well.
“The other day I just closed early because it was just a waste of time. Come down the High Street and you will see it is dying.”
Things went from bad to worse for Mel in October last year, when his wife Barbara, 76, died from sepsis after a lengthy illness.
Now he admits he doesn’t know how long he can carry on working and plans to close his shop next year if the current trend continues.
“We have been a specialist shop in the community – doing free deliveries and looking after our elderly customers by giving advice,” he said. “The money I am making is not sustainable and will wipe me out.
“Unfortunately people don’t really have any reason to come into Clacton anymore to shop.”