Once home to a host of independent businesses and a bustling main street, a popular market town has been rocked by sudden lockdowns that leave the future “scary” for business owners. Ramsbottom has taken a hit after the closure of its most popular pub, The Hearth of the Ram, appeared to start a chain of closures.

The beloved business The Chocolate Cafe announced it was closing after 15 years, with owner Philip Hargreaves saying the cost-of-living crisis was “hitting us on both ends”. Manchester evening news reports.

Announcing the closure on social media, the cafe said: “I’ve been avoiding writing this post as it means the end and I’m not sure if I’ve had the strength.”

“But with the heaviest of hearts and tears rolling down my eyes, we must announce that we are closing. It is not news that hospitality is on the verge of collapse and despite all efforts we simply cannot continue.

“The cost of living crisis is hitting us on both ends, our dear customers have less in their pockets and assets and energy have increased by 40 percent and in some cases doubled. It’s just not sustainable.” .

Meanwhile, the city’s much-loved Spanish restaurant, Levanter, closed earlier this year after nine years.

Just a few months earlier, the company had been forced to close its spin-off bar and diner due to the cost-of-living crisis.

In another blow to the high street gift shop, Hearts for Homes, announced that it was reducing its opening hours due to a drop in traffic.

Owner Kerry Khan said: “If I look at it from a business point of view, I don’t think there’s any question that I wouldn’t renovate it,” he said. “It scares me to do it. Right now, the future looks pretty scary.

“Since Christmas, it’s been very quiet. In the past, you may have had a couple of bad days, but it was a problem. Now it’s become the norm.”

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Khan said he believes the city “needs more support from the local population” and is “hopeful that things will improve.”

She added: “They want all these shops and nice things here, but if you don’t support them, they won’t be there anymore. If it goes on like it has, there will be very little left here.”

“When I opened the store, I thought this was a great place because there’s a lot going on and a large number of people. That’s changed a lot. If I was thinking of opening a store in Ramsbottom now, I don’t think I would.”

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