Charity shops have been pulled into the debate as another trader prepares to close up for good - putting low cost bargain shops and subsidised rates to blame.
Established jewellery makers Beading Crafty will close its doors on February 27 after eight years of trading.
Shona Perkins, who has run the business in Warwick Road for six of these years, said she simply cannot continue to compete with charity shop prices and shoppers expecting cut price competition.
Criticising a “vast increase” of charitable collection shops along Warwick Road and Talisman Square, she feels the decline in high end retailers is driving the retail market down further each year.
“I think town-goers would be shocked if they stopped to count just how many charity shops are in the town now, with another on its way having replaced a popular family furniture business,” she said.
“I have no objections to charitable organisations and have supported a variety over the years. But I do believe the council needs to limit the number it is prepared to subsidise in a town this size and consider instead helping small local business.
“This high number is attracting in customers who just want low cost bargains, completely changing the character of shopping in the town.
“Maybe people will wake up and realise it’s a ghost town by day with visitors only coming at night for food.”
Paul Garrison, town development officer for Kenilworth, explained that government guidelines offer all charity shops an 80 percent reduction in business rates from the local authority.
Rents are arranged privately between landlords and retailers and are not subject to any mandatory reductions.
Guidelines issued to traders by Warwick District Council, which sets business rates, states: “Charity shops are deemed to being wholly or mainly used for charitable purposes if it is wholly or mainly used for the sale of goods donated to a charity and the proceeds of the sale of the goods are applied for the purposes of the charity.
“Charities in occupation of a property are entitled to 80 per cent mandatory relief from their rates bill, providing the property is used wholly or mainly for charitable purposes.”
There are currently a growing number of charity shops in the town centre, including Acorns, Scope, Help the Aged, Myton Hospice, Oxfam, RSPCA, Headway, Cancer Research, Age UK and Shakespeare Hospice on the way.
Traders have waded in on the debate over the numbers of donation led shops and their impact on the town after calls for input from the Chamber of Trade.
One business owner described there being “too many” with calls for more upmarket retailers to come to the town. While another praising the number, saying: “I’d say the charity shops bring people from out of town to search for hidden gems and has created a culture.”
Seánna Holland, vice chair of the chamber said that with large numbers of thriving independent retailers, there was plenty to bring people into the town. “We need to support all our local traders and not continually criticise those we have,” she said.
Beading Crafty will continue to trade online at www.beadingcrafty.com and offer repairs either with a market stall or alternative premises.