SHOPPERS admitted their disappointment and sadness as another business was at risk of leaving Christchurch high street.

As reported by the Daily Echo, the owners of Mr Simms Olde Sweet Shoppe have warned the franchise will have to close if buyers are not found by Christmas.

The business was placed on the market two years ago, but a deal is yet to be secured.

The doubt cast over the shop in the town centre follows a turbulent few months for Christchurch’s retail sector.

This month New Look in Saxon Square closed and earlier this year fellow fashion store Edgar & Scott shut up shop citing business struggles. Food outlets have also been hit, with Church Street losing restaurant Cheese & Alfies.

Both Christchurch residents and visitors admitted it was alarming to see national chains and smaller shops closing.

Mudeford resident Dawn Parkyn said: “It would be a really shame to lose the sweet shop. Nobody wants to see shops closing down. The rents and rates make it so difficult.”

Martin Russell, a retired business owner from Purewell, said: “There are more coffee shops than retail facilities. It is a concern to be losing the smaller shops as well.”

Poole resident Marie Neale said Christchurch is fairing better than her home town. She added: “It is not good to see that a shop like that could have to close and it is the same everywhere you go. Everyone is struggling.”

Online business listings site currently has the leasehold available for eight Christchurch town centre premises, with many of these advertised as at a reduced price.

Coupled with several empty units in High Street and surrounding areas, businesses are facing a continual battle to survive.

David Morgan, who owns a retail business in Weymouth, said: “There is plenty of shopping in Christchurch, but the economy is in a terrible state. It is a really challenging time for all retailers.”

Retired printing industry worker from Mudeford, Ray Davis, said: “It is difficult for the high street. We have got enough coffee shops and I would hate to see the little shops go.”