SHOPKEEPERS in Port Glasgow town centre say they are feeling the pinch since the nearby multi-million retail park opened.

Jan McKay, manager of Jumbo Cards in Princes Street, says trade has been affected.

She feels the council is not doing enough to promote local businesses after giving the green light to a host of major brands at the nearby development.

Jan said: "The retail park has impacted on us.

"We have a core customer base, so we still get them coming into the shop.

"The problem is, if someone is going up to the retail park for other things, instead of coming up here they will buy down there."

Jan says retailers' meetings have been held but feels more could be done to promote the shops.

She said: "There is no signage.

"There is more footfall at the train station now, but there's no signage up to show what is in the town to draw the people who are going to the retail park into the town.

"There's no initiative to bring people into the town centre.

"There are a lot of independent shops and with the likes of us we sell more than cards - we sell gifts, candles nik naks and jewellery, so we can offer a bigger variety than a big chain.

"Port people are very loyal in that they shop in the Port but they have separated both areas with the retail park and it's left us stranded up here."

Jan is also unhappy about plans to charge for parking in the Princes Street car park and says this will compound the current problems.

A nearby ironmonger told the Tele his trade has also taken a big hit.

Sandeep Singh who owns Port Hardware says he has had to let two part-time assistants go because of the downturn.

He said: "I'm down by 40 per cent.

"People are driving into the retail park and straight back out and away.

"Customers are only allowed half an hour on-street parking whereas in Greenock it is an hour.

"It should be an hour here.

"The reason I'm surviving is the key cutting and watch battery business.

"I had to cut staff - two part-time staff.

"It's hard not only for me."

But business is good for the nearby Marie Curie charity shop, which has capitalised on the presence of the retail park by adding Sunday trading.

Lorraine Bridge, assistant manager, said: "The retail park hasn't really affected us as we're a charity shop and people are always coming in for a bargain.

"We started opening on a Sunday because the retail park is open and our footfall has started to increase a bit.

"Since around March and April we've had people coming up on a Sunday to see what other shops are open - I think the word's spreading now."

Council bosses say they are doing their bit to help the Port town centre thrive and say that shops should promote themselves.

A spokesperson said: “Inverclyde Council and Strathclyde Partnership for Transport have invested £335,000 in improving the environment in Princes Street.

"Port Glasgow has also been linked to the A8 through a spur road which has increased access and made it easier for shoppers to get there.

“The council’s policy on parking charges is recognised as being the most effective way to ensure that parking spaces are available for shoppers and visitors and aren’t occupied all day by commuters.

“This council works hard to support local businesses as much as it can.

"The massive £2.5m investment in improving Inverclyde’s towns and villages is one example, while the new incentive scheme to encourage firms on the Port Glasgow industrial estate to demolition derelict buildings is another.

"But businesses are responsible for their own marketing and advertising.

"It is unrealistic to call on the council to promote individual firms.

"This is also outside the scope of the council’s legal powers.”