BUSINESS owners have been forced to use mobile signs to advertise their stores claiming Winchester has “forgotten” them.

Owners and managers of Parchment Street Barbers, Boudoir Blush and Asgard tattoo studio claim they have had to take drastic action to promote their businesses despite being located just a matter of yards from the High Street.

They have resolved to employ people to hold directional signs and have said, since adopting the basic advertising tactic, custom has dramatically increased over the last four weeks.

Jane Gregory, owner of the barbershop, has worked in Winchester for 12 years and said no other form of advertising has been anywhere near as effective.

“Winchester’s not even a massive town and yet we have real problems getting people to notice we’re here,” she said. “There’s a guy who has lived on this street for however long and he regularly visits some of these other shops and told me he’d only recently noticed I was here.”

Jane said the decision to ease traffic congestion along the road actually resulted in more financial loss for its businesses.

“I was told that before they changed this street to being one-way there were up to 3,000 cars that used to come through here every day and there was this constant queue. It was ready-made advertising for us because people would see it and think ‘I didn’t know that was here, I’ll come back’ and they would. But now we have maybe 100 cars and we’re just nowhere near as busy.”

Imogen Tatem, manager at Boudoir Blush, said: “We have experienced two quite extreme levels of custom. We didn’t think having the boards would have this much of an effect and it’s unbelievable when we have them up. There are people who live in Winchester who say they never knew we were here but have been made aware by the boards even though the shop’s been there for seven years.

“We can even tell a difference when the [signholders] go in for lunch because even then it goes really quiet. We have found it is the most effective form of advertising we have ever used.”

Ms Gregory added: “I had 10,000 leaflets put in papers and magazine and I got two extra clients as a result. These boards have generated so much. I might get at least another 15 people walk in on top of what I would normally expect just from having seen the signs.

“It’s just such a shame it comes to this. Parchment Street seems to be the forgotten street in Winchester but it’s got so much.”

Chris Turner, executive director of Winchester BID, said: “We are pleased that all the shops are now in operation and our monitors suggest that footfall has gone up in the last six months. It’s great that shops are starting to work together to keep the footfall as high as possible.”