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Video: Shoppers lament loss of Marks & Spencer

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MARKS & Spencer has closed the doors to its South Shields store for the last time.

The retail giant has shut its King Street store after 80 years of trading.

Store bosses closed the branch at 5.30pm on Saturday, citing a decline in sales and the high cost of modernising the shop among the reasons.

Shoppers made the most of the store’s last day, but were upset that it would no longer be in the town.

And as the last customers were being served, staff members posed for pictures at the tills.

Retired Ken Walls, 88, of Marsden, South Shields, said: “I think it’s a real shame because it’s a good store.

“I’ve shopped there for a very long time, ever since I came to South Shields in 1948.

“It is very sad to see it go.”

Linda Hickman, 59, a retired care assistant, from Tyne Dock, South Shields, said: “It’s like Frederick Street all over again. All that’s left is second-hand shops and phone shops.

“I shopped at M&S every day, so I’m gutted. There’s nothing left here now. It’s really sad, and I can’t understand why it’s closing.

“It’s got to be really sad for the staff too.”

Retired Alwyn Frost, of South Shields town centre, added: “I’m very sad about it closing. I need a scooter to get around, so I won’t really be able to get to the other stores.

It’s dreadful that so many shops are closing. I was down King Street the other day and there was no one around because there’s nothing left here for them.

“But what can you do? All the signatures in the world won’t convince them to stay.”

NHS worker David Trotter, 22, of West Park, South Shields, said: “It doesn’t really affect me, but I do go shopping there for my nanna and grandad quite often, so it will matter to them. They’ve been talking about it.

“It was probably the only good shop that was left on the street.”

Rail company worker Michael Donald, 22, from Westoe, South Shields, said: “I don’t really have an opinion on that particular shop, but I just think it shows the way things are.

“This is just the latest in a list of shops – it won’t be the last to close.”

Staff are being relocated to an expanded outlet at Silverlink in North Tyneside, but the retailer 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 365 masterplan to revive South Shields town centre.

A Gazette petition urging M&S to return gathered almost 2,000 signatures.

Twitter: @shieldsgazvicki

 

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