Traders in Preston’s Fishergate fear they could go out of business because of the major roadworks outside their premises.
Shop owners claim they have lost thousands of pounds in income during the £3.4m improvement project, while others say customers are put off visiting because of the disruptions.
County Hall bosses have defended the works, which are almost three months behind schedule, but traders worry they are failing to break even.
Tausif Patel, director of News Bay Ltd, said: “The issue we are facing is we have lost half the trade we’ve got since the roadworks.
“Because of the roadworks and the barriers, people can’t cross the road to start with – they are avoiding it and it’s just a nightmare.
“We’ve been affected quite a lot – the last four weeks have been the worst weeks in the last four years.
“We are losing at least £3,000 to £4,000 a month.”
Tausif fears the business may close if things don’t improve.
He said: “At the moment I don’t have the money to pay rent for the last two months.
“We are not even breaking even – we are losing money.
“It means if it carries on for another three months I’ll have to either close the business or get some sort of loan.
“We should get some sort of compensation that at least should cover our losses.
“I had to pay for a cleaner twice a day because of the amount of dust.”
The project had been scheduled to finish at the end of July, but is now not expected to be completed until mid October.
Hamza Younas, proprietor of Yog Yum’s on the corner of Corporation Street and Fishergate, said the roadworks outside the shop had affected the business in “quite a lot of ways”.
He said: “When people see all the roadworks they don’t even bother trying to cross the road, they get put off.
“The worst thing is we get quite a lot of trade coming from out of town and they are struggling to park because it’s so confusing.
“So they drive past and don’t come back, and then ring us and say ‘Where do you park?’
“My cousin who works here was telling me the weekly intake has come down since all this.
“We’ve got quite a few regulars, but out-of-town trade has been affected quite a lot.
“We are getting calls from people from Lancaster who were saying they won’t come until after the roadworks are finished.”
Barber Richard Kennedy, or Barbers, said: “I’m really looking forward to what it’s going to look like, but there’s been a definite drop in my client base.
“People are coming back and saying ‘I was going to come last week but couldn’t cross the road’, so it’s very annoying.”
Staff in Lush said the works were “off-putting” for visitors to the shop.
Manager Heather Redgewell said: “I think for us we are finding it difficult because one of the key things we do is talk to customers and hold consultations.
“That’s a lot harder when there’s a digger outside the door and you’ve got that noise in your ear, so in that sense it’s probably not as enjoyable for customers.
“Hopefully it will look amazing when it’s done, it’s just in the interim I wish it would hurry up.
“At some points it is very narrow and people are rushing a lot more rather than taking their time window shopping.”
County Hall bosses confirmed businesses would not be compensated.
Phil Barrett, director of Lancashire Highway Services, said: “Works on this scale will inevitably bring a degree of inconvenience and we have worked hard to make sure that local businesses have been disrupted as little as possible.
“This £3.4 million investment is improving the entrances to Preston, which will make the city centre a more attractive place to be and create jobs, investment and prosperity.
“The transformation of the top end of Fishergate clearly shows the benefits of the scheme and we have already seen a huge vote of confidence with the forthcoming arrival on Fishergate of Tesco and Sainsbury’s.
“Existing businesses on Fishergate will be ideally placed to benefit from an increase in trade when the project is completed in a few weeks’ time.”