FEARS about the future of independent retailers in Oxford’s Cowley Road are growing after two shops fell victim to the recession.

The owners of Videosyncratic and Galeria Brasil blamed rising overheads and a fall in customer numbers as the reasons behind their decisions to shut down.

Community leaders and fellow traders reacted by warning that the make-up of the road is under threat and claimed other shops could also give up the fight for survival.

Jon Spira, 33, has run DVD and comic shop Videosyncratic since 2002.

On Sunday, he will shut his Summertown branch and on Monday his flagship shop in Cowley Road will close its doors for the final time.

Mr Spira blamed a combination of increasing business rates, reduced custom, Internet downloads and the recession for his decision.

He said: “I’m extremely sad to be going. This shop has always been my passion.

“Cowley Road is losing its culture very rapidly. The independent stores are going and the big multi-nationals are coming in.

“We have noticed fewer people coming in. We still have our loyal customer base, but other visitors have been dwindling for some time.

“My landlord has been fantastic, and I don’t want to criticise him, but rental rates in Oxford price out far too many smaller operators.”

Mr Spira, who lives near Kidlington, said independent traders offered a level of service chain stores could not match.

He said: “I don’t regret a thing. The past eight years have been a blast. But it’s such a shame I have to leave so many people behind.”

He believed areas with large numbers of independent traders were more vulnerable to closures during recessions because the stores were less able to withstand economic downturns.

Galeria Brasil imports Brazilian items, ranging from clothes to household objects. It opened in 2003.

Owner Celina de Godoy has seen sales fell by 40 per cent in the past year and said she was “devastated” to be leaving. Her shop will close at the end of March.

She said: “Cowley Road is fast becoming just another boring street.

“I really feel the big companies are going to take advantage of smaller shops closing down and will start buying up all the premises. Independent traders are being priced out, which is devastating for the whole community.”

Other retailers confirmed business was a struggle.

Chatar Majid, owner of the nearby Maroc Deli, said: “I’m concerned at the news, because we may be the next. Times are really hard.”

Reza Khalaj, manager of the Meli Greek delicatessen, added: “Many small businesses are in the same situation.”

Film-maker Martyn Chalk, 35, who wrote a movie script inspired by Cowley Road, said: “Its independence is what makes Cowley Road unique.”

In 2007, the Oxford Mail reported how small traders felt they were being pushed out by larger chains.

James Attlee, who wrote Isolarion: A Different Oxford Story, a book about Cowley Road, added: “These shops are much-loved institutions.”

Oxford band Stornoway and Nick and Mark Cope, of the Candyskins, will play a gig in Videosyncratic’s Cowley Road shop at 7pm on Monday, during a closing-down sale.