BUSINESSES and residents blame “stratospherically” high rent rates for shop closures as small business owners beg for a chance to survive.

More shops are being shuttered in Reading town centre as big brands such as Thomas Cook shut up shop on Broad Street.

Several small business owners have reached out saying it is “heartbreaking” and “discouraging” to see so many shops closed as they want a chance to survive on the High Street.

Many residents have blamed high rent rates for the challenging “barrier” between small businesses and the High Street.

Dionis Beqaj said rents have “reached the stratosphere”.

READ MORE: Dozens of shops shuttered in Reading town centre: ROUND UP

Mara Campbell, owner of Reading Sewing Bee, said: “It is discouraging to see so many empty shops on the high street that are completely unattainable for small businesses like mine, who could never in a million years afford £70,000+ in rent per year.”

Reading Sewing Bee, a sewing room for hire that offers a collaborative environment for sewists to use equipment, “can’t move forward until I find a location”, Mara added.

Mara said finding a location has been “very difficult” as “most landlords require 6 months’ rent as a deposit and 3-to-5-year leases.”

“I understand that they want to be protected, but it is hard for a small business to get going”, she continued.

Reading Chronicle: Several shops remain closed in Reading town centre

“In my case, I have the hard choice of either starting out in a very small place and then being stuck there for many years even if I outgrow the space, or having to rent a larger place, with the much higher overhead costs that creates, which is a huge risk.”

Speaking about a lack of support, Mara said she “doesn’t believe in putting the responsibility of solving this on the Council”, but the town would be a “richer place” if landlords had “any type of encouragement to rent out to starting businesses.

Mara said this could be achieved by offering “assurances in case new businesses failed”.

The entrepreneur said it is “heartbreaking” to see “landlords choosing to waste money”, in the way of utilities and taxes, by leaving a store empty, rather than reducing prices to support a smaller business.

READ HERE: Reading needs cheaper rent, shops and leisure facilities, locals say

Adding to the conversion, small business owner Charlie Bond said: “Looking for another premises to expand into is an absolute minefield.”

“We won’t see anything interesting or independent opening any time soon, because the greedy landlords on high street will not lower their extortionate rates”.

Several residents have blamed the internet for the closure of High Street stores.

Dave Powell asked, “what is the point of having the shop in town” as “I’m always met with ‘you could order it online’”.