ONE of York's most distinctive and attractive shops - Christmas Angels in Low Petergate - has shut its doors for the final time.

The shop's closure on Saturday comes a couple of years after City of York Council granted planning permission to landlord Space Property Corporation Ltd of London to convert the building to a restaurant.

It is just the latest in a series of well-known independent York retailers to close or announce they are closing, with others including Macdonalds furniture store in Fossgate, Mulberry Hall in Stonegate and Bulmers near Monk Bar. Concerns have been growing about the number of city centre shops being converted into cafes and restaurants.

The council was told in 2013 that the lease on the Angels' Grade II listed property had come to an end, and consent for an alternative use was being sought as there was a possibility of it becoming vacant.

A town planning consultant acting for the applicant said restaurants within the central area attracted a significant footfall and were 'as much a contributor towards maintaining and enhancing the vitality and viability of the centre as are the shops.'

However, Pauline and Chris Kirby, who ran the shop, said then they were in the process of renewing the lease so the shop could continue and they fully intended to carry on trading.

But Mr Kirby, speaking just before the shop's closure on Saturday afternoon, said they had given up their battle to stay and - reluctantly - decided to retire earlier than they had originally planned, having hoped to sell the business on as a going concern.

He said the lease dispute had gone to county court and it had been decided there should be a break clause in the lease, which their landlord had decided to exercise.

Mr Kirby said the Angels shop had been successful and profitable, with Christmas items selling well from summer until the festive season and then sales in toys, dolls house furniture and teddy bears doing well the rest of the year.

The Kirbys said on their website that Christmas Angels had been a favourite destination shop for visitors to York for more than 28 years and they were sorry to say they had now closed for business.

"The owner of the building has been granted planning permission by the City of York Council to turn the building into a restaurant, and work is to commence very soon," they said, adding that they wanted to thank their customers and suppliers.