ONE of Chepstow’s oldest and most well-known shops will close its doors for good in September.

The Herbert Lewis department store, on Chepstow’s High Street, has been run by the same family for 140 years.

Citing changes in consumers’ shopping habits and decreased spending in recent years, Herbert Lewis’ owner, Dee Griffith, says this is “a good time” to walk away from her family store.

When asked if she felt sadness at the decision, Ms Griffith said: “Of course, there’s always nostalgia – particularly when our customers hear the news.

“We’ve always had a lot of good customers here and the staff have been brilliant.”

Some residents and shoppers had expressed alarm at the news of Herbert Lewis’ impending closure, with rumours spreading that the shop had been in financial difficulties and was facing liquidation, but Ms Griffith denied that was the case.

Admitting that 2018 had so far been a difficult year for retailers, Ms Griffith insisted the store was not in trouble and the decision to close was one of choice, not necessity.

“There have been rumours of liquidation but that’s not the case”, Ms Griffith said.

The store’s closure will come as a big loss to the people of Chepstow, who will not remember a time when Herbert Lewis was not a part of the town’s High Street.

Shop closures, for various reasons, are becoming a regular of late.

Ms Griffith sees her store’s declining sales as part of a much larger problem affecting retailers everywhere, not just in Chepstow.

“Obviously, retail has changed a lot”, she said.

As more and more people, especially younger shoppers, have turned to internet shopping in recent years, businesses like Herbert Lewis have lost out.

“When you sell branded goods it can be difficult to compete with online purchasing”, Ms Griffith said. “We’ve always tried to provide an extra touch – even putting up people’s photographs for them in their houses, but do younger people really value the level of service we provide?”

Ms Griffith also suggested more local reasons for the decision to close her store, saying that poor weather earlier in the year had kept shoppers away.

“It was a particularly tough spring, with horrific snow in this area”, she said.

“That brought about a late start to the summer, and since then it’s been blazing hot.

“Unfortunately, it seems to have come all at once.”

Herbert Lewis is one of many retail casualties in the county in recent times. Chain stores, independent shops and services such as bank branches have all either closed in recent months or are in the process of closing.

After seeing how spending had decreased in the town, Ms Griffith said, she felt it was time to plan the store’s closure.

Her focus now is on preparing the store’s 18 other staff for life after Herbert Lewis.

“We’ll look after our staff and our customers”, Ms Griffith said.

“We are planning a special sale for the summer, which will start on July 11.

“It’ll be one last chance for our customers to pick up a bargain.”

Founded on the same premises by Herbert Lewis in 1878, ownership of the store has been passed down through five generations of the same family.

Ms Griffith was made the store’s Managing Director in 2004.

She hopes that increased investment in and around Chepstow will at least mean her decision to close the store will bring about a business opportunity for someone else.

Despite the nostalgia, Ms Griffith says now is the right time to walk away.

“After 140 years, this is a good time to say goodbye, and to do it properly”, she said.