A VINTAGE clothing store in Winchester is closing after nine years due to a decrease in sales after the pandemic.

Stardust Years, a vintage clothing store that focuses on vintage accessories, clothing, shoes and jewellery in Walcote Place, is closing its doors on Sunday, June 19 after a lack of footfall up the High Street and an increase in service charges.

Owner Karen Fitzsimmons feels now is the right time to move to online sales with the cost of living rising.

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She said: "After nine years, I think it's the best time to close because things have become so slow. I think a lot of what we sell is linked to events and holidays and since the pandemic, people have been slow to get their confidence back. Also, with the cost of living going up, it's time to concentrate online."

Karen has noticed footfall decreases further up the High Street, with people turning back as they get to Barclays Bank. She said: "It stops when you get to Barclays and I think that's a bit of a psychological barrier, because when I walk into work people get to Barclays and think, 'oh this must be it. We'll walk back'.

Hampshire Chronicle: Owner of Stardust Years, Karen Fitzsimmons

"I think the focus on Winchester is the lower side of the High Street. I had a customer come in and ask how long have I been here, and she couldn't believe it when I said nine years. You get off at Park and Ride or get to the corner where Barclays Bank is and think, 'oh, all the shops must be down the High Street'. There are no signs to show what shops are up here.

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"There is a huge map near Rawlings Opticians that tells you where you are in the city and says where all the other shops are."

Karen said her costs and service charges have tripled since last year.

She said: "It's a lot of money for a small business, especially after Brexit and the pandemic.

"The service charges and everything on top have been the biggest problem. I think Winchester has become expensive."

Karen will use her online store to keep Stardust Years running, with the help of Etsy and fetes around Hampshire.

Paul Spencer, director of the BID said: "I am very sorry to hear this news.

"Over the years we have supported this business through a number of different projects and events.

"It is sad news that the shop is closing. I see that the business will continue online, and I wish them every success with this."

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