RETAILERS fear the closure of Marks & Spencer could create a “domino effect” in South Shields town centre.
News of the iconic retail outlet’s imminent demise follows recent announcements that Mothercare and the Legend clothes store, both also in King Street, were shutting up shop.
Now fears are growing that M&S’s exit could mark the “death knell” for the shopping thoroughfare.
One trader who is keeping a close eye on the situation is Gavin Holder, owner of GHI Computers.
The lease on his King Street shop runs out in 18 months, and he is taking the future “day by day”.
He said: “This is going to have a massive impact and could result in a knock-on effect, a significant domino effect.
“It’s going to drive people away and will inevitably result in less footfall.
“The council should wake up and realise that King Street is no longer viable for lots of businesses.
“The street needs specialist retailers, not card shops, betting shops and charity shops.”
Ewen Murray, owner of Alderman’s coffee house, described the iconic retailer’s exit from town as a “bitter blow”.
But he also defended the council from direct blame for the decision.
He said: “I counted 17 units on King Street recently that were either charity shops or ‘to let’.
“Add to that the loss of the biggest unit and the street is looking pretty decimated.
“We can only hope that the council’s regeneration plans will result in more retail coming to town.
“People tend to blame the council, but it can do nothing over varying the rents or rates.
“Having said that, Marks & Spencer’s closure is a bitter blow.”