A KEIGHLEY trader has issued a rallying call to the public to support the town's independent shops amid claims some owners are considering half-day closing on Saturdays.

Graham Benn sounded a 'use them or lose them' warning after online reports some small businesses had seen a weekend trading slump.

He said people had to support the smaller high street retailers if they wanted to keep them.

Several long-established Keighley outlets have disappeared in recent years, including Reids Bookshop, Moldai Studios and Willis Walker.

Mr Benn, who runs DIY Solutions in Cavendish Street and is vice-chairman of Keighley Town Centre Association, said: "I want to get the message across we are here.

"Please come and support us! If people don't support their local independent shops, there is more chance they will be lost."

He said public shopping habits are changing, with a shift towards more weekday and online purchasing.

"At one time most small businesses made their profit on a Saturday, while weekday takings just covered costs," Mr Benn added.

"People only used to have Saturday and Sunday to do their shopping.

"But footfall is increasing through the week. More people are working part-time and will come out shopping on a Tuesday and Wednesday.

"And most shops are now open Tuesday afternoons, too, which used to traditionally be half-day closing.

"Society has changed and that is reflected on the high street. And, of course, the internet has had a big impact, too, on the way people choose to shop."

But there is a glimmer of hope trade is improving.

He said: "Saturdays were very quiet, and although many businesses are still not doing as much trade as they would like, things have picked recently up and we are returning to where we were.

"For us, the last hour-and-a-half on a Saturday is very busy. Most DIY is done at a weekend and people call in for things."

Mr Benn is also urging town-centre traders to grasp "a golden opportunity" and support Keighley's Business Improvement District bid.

The status would generate more than £1 million of extra investment for five years.

A vote on the scheme will be held this autumn.

"This would mean a huge amount to Keighley and is a golden opportunity for businesses to say what they need," said Mr Benn.

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