RETAILERS have blamed poor trade over the summer for forcing them to shut up shop as Weymouth town centre faces a fresh wave of closures.

Esteem Jewellers in St Thomas Street and Shirt Shack in Coburg Place are the latest to hang up ‘closing down’ signs.

The blows come as 17 premises lie empty in the town centre.

Mike Freeman, director of the Shirt Shack, blamed poor trading during the Olympics and increasing business rates.

He said: “We don’t want to go but because of the low trading we don’t have a choice.

“We were £100,000 down this summer and £80,000 was just during the Olympics.

“The summer is normally what covers the low trade in the winter and this year it wasn’t there.

“Since the recession in 2008 things started getting worse and the problem is all the bills are going up.

“Council rates keep increasing and our income has been going down.

“I’ve got to the point where I can’t keep it up and it doesn’t look like there will be any improvement soon so I’ll have to close.”

The Shirt Shack occupies a prominent site at the gateway to the town centre by King’s Statue.

Geniyus men’s clothes shop in St Mary Street and Brunches restaurant in Maiden Street have both recently closed.

Esteem Jewellers in St Thomas Street has a closing down sale on.

Owner Stephen Laing said he has tried everything to bring in more customers.

He said: “I’ve been here for six-and-a-half years and I’m closing down because there’s just not enough trade.

“It’s all charity shops in town now, which isn’t a problem but it shows businesses aren’t willing to come here or are struggling.

“I’ve tried all sorts but it hasn’t worked. I’ve had enough of the struggle. There’s no-one lined up to take on the building yet.

“I’m hoping to find someone to come in so it doesn’t end up as another empty shop.”

Johnsons Cleaners in St Thomas Street closed at the end of August as part of a national restructure in the Johnson Service Group.

Comet in Jubilee Retail Park closed in February after 25 years’ trade in the town.

Millets in St Mary Street has also shut its doors.

Jezebels Jewels in St Mary Street closed around the same time after what owners described as ‘a lack of trade and support’ when trade ‘plummeted’ during the roadworks.

Next is also due to close on December 16.

Ian Doyle, economic regeneration manager at Weymouth and Portland Borough Council, said the rate of vacant shops in Weymouth is five per cent and the national average is 14.8 per cent.

He said: “We will continue working hard alongside Weymouth BID and the Chamber of Commerce to help address the current economic challenges shops and businesses are facing in Weymouth.”

Anna-Maria Geare, president of the chamber of commerce, said: “This is a nationwide thing, people are going to larger centres for retail. “We are always sad to see empty shops and are coordinating with local councils and businesses to provide decor for the empty shop fronts to make them more inviting.”