THE owner of a closed Chipping Norton deli says the influx of national shops into the town was a 'tipping point' for the business.

Delicacy Deli on Middle Row, just off the High Street, shut earlier this year after four decades in the town centre.

Liz Hogarty, who managed the store for the last five years, revealed the deli experienced a drop in sales last September and did not recover over Christmas.

In January, new stores opened on the Windmill Square Retail Park, including Marks & Spencer and Costa Coffee, which Ms Hogarty called the 'final nail in the coffin'.

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With an Aldi opening in the town three years ago, the Shipton-under-Wychwood resident said independent traders must take action to keep their businesses alive.

She added: “Town centres have got to evolve into something else.

"The ease of parking at the new M&S site took trade most definitely. My sales certainly dropped with the retail park's arrival, but who knows if they would have recovered in time?"

Ms Hogarty admitted the deli had struggled even after incorporating a coffee shop, which helped increase footfall in the summer.

The shop also had a cheese counter and sold local ingredients and artisan products, but sales did not reach past levels last Christmas.

The building's insurance also increased last autumn, which alongside high rents, left the business 'feeling the pinch'.

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Ms Hogarty said landlords in the town needed to 'take more responsibility' in helping small businesses survive.

She added: “If you’re a micro-business you can’t compete. Landlords' expectations are way above what micro-businesses can meet."

A staff member at Nash’s Bakery, another independent business in the town centre, said trade ‘hadn’t gone down at all’ as a result of the new shops.

Experience Chipping Norton, which is dedicated to promoting business, tourism, heritage and community initiatives in the town, was contacted for comment.