INDEPENDENT shop owners are urging residents to buy from Dovercourt’s businesses before they are forced to close down.

At present there are 14 empty shop premises in the town - which is about 9 per cent of the total number of businesses.

Despite the vacant buildings, the town still has coffee shops, a handful of estate agents, five fast-food outlets, four charity shops, two clothing shops and three banks.

Vape shops, a jewellery shop and a dog groomers are also in the town.

Five small businesses have also moved from the Kingsway Plaza to the town centre recently.

But Michelle Taylor, who owns Bags and More at 264 High Street, says it is now crucial for people to spend money in Dovercourt’s shops to keep them up and running for years to come.

The 52-year-old said: “The High Street is tough, it’s a slow time of year.”

She said local shops are closing, new shops are struggling and other shops might move to another location.

Michelle said her shop has four times as much footfall since she moved from the Kingsway Plaza to High Street five months ago - but she wants to see a greater increase in both her shop and others.

Michelle shares her shop with Tom Sims who runs a seascape picture business.

However, she said everyone has to help each other in order to keep all of the shops running.

She said: “If you are shopping locally, thanks.

“If you’re not, please try to if you possibly can, as how can we expect our neighbours to if we are not doing this ourselves?

“If we spend our money next door, they may be able to spend money with you.

“This is crunch time.

“If we don’t help each other, we will all lose out.”

The Kingsway Plaza, which opened last summer as an indoor shopping centre, is owned by Steve Davies.

There are 12 businesses running in the plaza which sell shoes, chocolate, jewellery, arts and crafts, clothes, vape products, garden tools and homeware.

There is also a diner.

Steve, 56, said: “Michelle and some other businesses moved into the town centre, but there are not enough people shopping in the town.

“A lot of people still don’t know there is a plaza.”

He hopes more people will visit the plaza as it is “convenient” and “has everything within two minutes of each other”.

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