THE owner of a children's soft play centre in Birkenhead has confirmed she is being forced to close after Christmas due to a "rapid decline in visitors".
Debbie Harris, from Moreton, opened Clown Around Soft Play in August 2019.
The business, on Beckwith Street in Birkenhead, "found it hard" at the beginning as there were many restrictions throughout the pandemic.
Last month, the Globe spoke to 37-year-old Debbie, who said "If people aren’t coming through the door, we are going to have to close."
She said: "In 2022 it all lifted and we picked up and were steady, but recently in the last six months we've just seen such a rapid decline in visitors.
"I think it’s down to a number of factors with the cost of living being the big one."
Yesterday (Thursday, November 9) Debbie and her team confirmed on Facebook that the soft play centre would be closing after Christmas.
The statement said: "We have tried so hard to make Clown Around survive for what has been the hardest four years for small businesses.
"Unfortunately, we opened just before the pandemic begun and we have done everything we can to try and keep it going but unfortunately now we just can’t afford to stay open any longer.
"We have had the council open up two more new soft play centres in close proximity to us and two government-funded places for children which has made it so hard for us to keep going."
The team at Clown Around Soft Play will still be hosting their Santa's grotto and a big Christmas party on December 22.
December 23 will be the venue's last day of trading, and they will be "open as usual" until then.
Debbie explained that releasing the news about the closure was the "hardest, saddest, most heart-breaking post" she has ever had to write.
She said: "We did post about the risk of closing and we were busy but this only kept up for a few weeks and unfortunately we can’t stay open with no customers in because we just can’t pay staff and bills.
"You will still be greeted by me and Toni every day before we close and we are going to miss you all.
"We have been flicking through photos and seeing how much all the children have grown since we opened and it’s heart-warming.
"We have become friends with so many of you and we didn’t want to go without saying goodbye."