Independent shopkeepers could be forced out of the borough as they face rent increases of more than 20 per cent and competition from online retailers.

Teddington retailer Escape closed down at the beginning of February and the unit is now vacant, and nearby Kitchen Sync will be leaving its premises in March following a closing down sale.

Kitchen Sync has operated in Teddington for 14 years, but a rent increase of 22 per cent coupled with the need to commit to a five-year lease will see it close.

Owner Sue Chuter said: "Our landlord is a company in London, not Teddington and they certainly don’t care about the high street and the mix of people and shops, so they just see it as a commercial decision. I don’t know what the council or the government can stop landlords continuing to put rates up for retailers. Maybe they can’t do anything."

Ms Chuter said competition from online retailers meant all independent retailers are finding life tough.

She said: "All my staff are trained and they will talk to a customer about knives or kitchenware for half an hour, and the customer will go home and buy the recommended product on the internet.

"We have essentially become a showroom, but I don’t want to be an online business because my passion is dealing with the public and giving people what they want.

"The sad thing is that we have never been so busy now we have announced we are going. My staff know these people by name and we have a personal connection with our customers."

Council cabinet member for business Pamela Fleming agreed high rents were a problem in the borough because a high percentage of premises are investment portfolios belonging to people with little connection to the area, but the council has no influence over rates charged by private landlords.

She said: "We can’t do anything to tell landlords what they can and can’t charge, but we would be very happy to talk to those businesses in Teddington, and we do whatever we can to increase footfall in the areas and to make sure high streets are as active as possible."

Coun Fleming also pointed to the fact that the borough has lost 20 per cent of its business space, which has had an adverse effect on footfall for high street retailers.

She said: "It is a huge problem and I am deeply sympathetic.

"We would be very happy to arrange to meet with these people to discuss what can be done to help."

Business Secretary and Twickenham MP Vince Cable said: “I am naturally concerned to hear that two independent retailers are closing in Teddington which has been, until recently, a relatively strong shopping centre.

“The UK has the most advanced internet shopping of any country except Finland and it is hitting some traditional retailers hard.  That is why we must not impose additional burdens on retailers and why it is important to continue rate relief for small businesses.”

Volunteer-led group Totally Locally Teddington runs campaigns throughout the year with its 44 partner traders, including February’s Fiver Fest. See for details.