South shields MP Emma Lewell-Buck hopes Marks & Spencer will make a rapid return to the town after shutting its King Street store today.
The iconic brand is due to end its time in the town when the shop brings its 80 years of trading to an end at 5.30pm.
Staff are being relocated to an expanded outlet at Silverlink in North Tyneside, but the supermarket giant leaves behind disappointment and bitterness over its decision to quit the borough.
Now, the hope is that a new M&S outlet could be accommodated as part of the £100m masterplan to revive South Shields town centre.
Mrs Lewell-Buck today called on M&S to make a swift return to South Shields, blaming Prime Minister David Cameron for an increase in shop closures in the town.
She said: “This is a sad day for South Shields. Marks & Spencer has been in our town for generations, and the store will be missed.
“I’m disappointed that this decision has been taken right when our town is beginning an exciting regeneration project. I hope that the £100m of investment our council is putting into the town centre will convince M&S to return to Shields soon.
“Marks & Spencer told me that a decline in customers was a reason for closing the store, and the reason we have seen shop closures over the past few years is that incomes have been squeezed under David Cameron and people haven’t got as much money to spend.
“Wages aren’t keeping up with prices, and key costs like energy bills have gone through the roof.
“This month’s budget offered no solutions for people on low incomes, and it’s clear that only Labour is willing to tackle the cost-of-living crisis that will bring customers back to our high street.”
A Gazette petition urging the retail giant to return has gathered almost 2,000 signatures.
M&S bosses have cited a decline in sales and the high cost of modernising the King Street shop among reasons for its closure.
The search is now on to find a new retailer to move into the vacant town centre unit.