THE manager of a Newport charity shop says she has seen a 50 per cent decrease in the number of customers visiting since the regeneration of the city centre began.

Last week the Argus reported shopkeepers in Austin Friars, Newport, have hit out at the council for “a lack of help” following the start of demolition work to make way for the recently-approved Friars Walk.

Businesses in the area say they have seen their footfall and profits dip since demolition work began and they are unhappy at the time it took the council to put signs up directing people to the area.

Barbara Pryce, of the British Heart Foundation shop on Upper Dock Street, says she has seen an almost 50 per cent decrease in the amount of customers in the shop.

She is now appealing to people to get behind the annual Valentine’s appeal to raise much-needed money for the charity and the store.

She said: “It’s atrocious. Because people don’t walk past to get to the bus station anymore and we are just not seeing the custom.

“This is one of the oldest charity shops in Newport, and we are trying to raise as much money as we can. I’ve been working in this shop for 10 years and I’ve never seen so few customers. It’s almost 50 per cent less.

“It doesn’t help we’ve got no shops on either side or opposite – people are not walking by so they are not popping in. We are quite isolated.

“We need a lot of help to keep raising money and this redevelopment is seriously affecting business. People are either going into town a different way by the new bus station or they are just going straight to Cwmbran for their shopping.”

Shop assistant Miriam Masefield said: “I think a lot of people don’t realise we are open because of where we are situated – apart from Potter’s we are the only ones open here.”

The shop is holding its Valentine’s appeal and hopes businesses and people will support it. From £1 to £50, people can fill in hearts for the window display and the money will go towards training specialist nurses.

A Newport council spokesman said: “Friars Street, Austin Friars, Corn Street and Llanarth Street – as well as those parts of John Frost Square and Upper Dock Street not part of the redevelopment area are still accessible from Commercial Street.”