A MENSWEAR store which has been trading in Witney since 1912 is set to close its doors.

Keates of Witney, in the Market Square, could shut its menswear section as early as the end of this month, after more than a century in the town centre.

The shop has had a loyal customer base over the years, but will soon become the latest in a string of Witney's independent traders to close.

Read also: Witney shops close as business rates bite

Many of those have blamed rising business rates, but Keates's manager, David Ferriman, attributes the store's decline to the rise of online shopping.

He said: “The business has survived two World Wars, three recessions and been beaten by the push of a button.

Oxford Mail:

“I know everyone bangs on about business rates, which is a contributor. But really it’s just a decline in support for shops on the high street from the general public.

“We used to have a good customer base, but even those who have supported the shop buy online.

“The public need to wake up and support the high street.”

Keates sits across the road from Witney's iconic Buttercross and will be familiar with thousands of residents.

Read again: The new plan to save Witney's high street

The ground floor's menswear section will close, while the men's formal hire and Blossom Bridal & Occasion Wear on floors one and two will remain open.

The original Keates family used to live on the building's top floor, with Mr Ferriman taking over as manager in 1996.

It has been a huge part of the Witney resident's life, but the Keates name will be gone from the storefront by the time the lease expires at the end of March.

Mr Ferriman will continue to manage the bridal and formal hire sections, but he admitted the decision to close the menswear floor was a difficult one to make.

He said: “It’s with a heavy heart, we felt a guardianship of the business.

Oxford Mail:

“Even when we took the business on it was very important we kept the name Keates.

“We were very mindful to keep the history because when a businesses closes, that’s what is lost.”

The move comes weeks after West Oxfordshire District Council announced its support for a government scheme which will cut retailers’ rates by a third if they have a rateable value of £51,000 or less.

Read again: Witney music festival 2019 dates are set

The policy was hailed as 'keeping the high street alive', but Mr Ferriman claims the changing culture of shopping means it is 'too late'.

He said: We’ve tried to diversify and separate ourselves by offering a unique product.

“Sadly people are living in a society where they click 'buy' before midnight and it is delivered by 10."