The cost of living crisis has caused York House, an antiques, and vintage shop Richmond to close this Christmas. Pictured here are the owner’s granddaughter Georgie Swift, front, who worked at the business for six years, and Denise Heselhurst, a long-time employee. 

Image courtesy of ORBTA

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Three other independent businesses in the historic town have also announced closures including a hotel.

Christine Swift, owner of York House, has had enough. “The damage is done. We’re £10,000 a month down and my electricity bills are sky high at £2500 a month along with increases in just about everything else.”

Swift, who bought the building 26 years ago with her late husband, added: “Visitors are not buying and we’re not seeing customers from London or York any more. Tourism is what we rely on and that has fallen off. People don’t have the money to spend.”

The cost of living crises is at the heart of the closures, said Paul Harrison, chair of ORBTA, the Original Richmond Business & Tourism Association. Talking to ATG, he said: “This is an issue facing all small businesses across the country but is particularly acute for rural economies and market towns like Richmond, where independents contribute so much to the local community.


A planter display at York House.

Image courtesy of ORBTA

“Having survived Covid, independents have faced hugely increased energy costs, inflation on business essentials, some impacted by Brexit, but primarily the cost of living crisis.

“There is simply not the disposable income around. This has been evident in Richmond through lower footfall and lack of sales.”

Harrison added: “We are saddened by the loss of York House and its almost iconic presence in Market Place.”

The 19th century listed Fleece Hotel in the town – described architecturally as ‘Scottish baronial gothic’ – is closing in September and a message on the hotel’s website from the owners cites the “enormous burden of ever-increasing costs and unrelenting chronic staff issues”.

Few business owners in the town would blame PM Rishi Sunak for their woes.

However, Harrison made the point that “the business environment that has been created for businesses is the hardest I’ve known it to be”.