Gazette readers have provided a mixed response to the news department store chain Boyes are considering opening a new branch in South Shields.
The company, which sells items ranging from clothing to toys and DIY, admitted that although no agreement was currently in place, a move to South Shields would be of great interest to them.
There has been talk Boyes were set to move into the former Marks and Spencer premises, in King Street.
19Fabster73, posting on the Gazette's website, largely welcomed Boyes' interest in South Shields.
However, the poster feels it may hinge on whether South Tyneside Council's 365 regeneration plan is a success.
They said: "Not exactly Harrods, but a decent quality store.
"Reading between the lines, I think the quotes are saying they're aware of the ongoing 365 scheme, and if it does what it says on the tin we'll jump on the bandwagon."
On Facebook, meanwhile, Geoff Stansfield added: "I wish they would just get on with the 365 development n knock it all down instead of making the area look (bad).
"Don't let the same thing happen on King Street as what happened where the new supermarket was going; now they have lots of empty shops."
Linsey Ellens, meanwhile, was unconvinced that the former Marks and Spencer premises would be suitable.
She posted: "Will the site be big enough though? The Boyes in Barnard Castle is bigger than this."
Other posters expressed their pessimism at the current state of King Street.
Dyane Youngs posted on Facebook: "Plenty empty shops in King Street to choose from!"
Paul Mckiernan had similar sentiments, adding: "Take your pick from all the empty places - there's plenty to choose from."
And on the Gazette's website, Banished joked: "Boyes say 'We would certainly look at it if premises in South Shields became available'.
"Well, I am sure they will have to wait a long time, there are no available premises in South Shields, it is standing room only in King Street."
Another poster on the Gazette website, Overview, gave a suggestion to the council as to how to draw more shoppers and companies to South Shields.
Overview said: "Make the whole town free parking, at least until we get some shops opening up, and then we may see some shoppers returning.
"At the moment, with free parking at the Nook, Jarrow town centre and the MetroCentre, there is nothing to bring people into the town centre.
"It would be a big incentive to get big stores coming to South Shields if they knew there was free parking.
"Free parking after 3pm is useless; that is when people collect their children from school and prepare meals.
"The council has concentrated on the seafront and it is lovely, but to keep footfall in the town centre we must have decent shops and free parking to draw the shoppers and tourists in."
Some others were less convinced that Boyes would be a success in South Shields.
On Facebook, Karl Milburn posted: "Isn't this just like another Poundland - ie. selling the same type of stuff?"
Stephen Reah, meanwhile, added: "It would be nice if Primark opened a store in Shields."
Lee Hughes, the Putting People First representative for the Bede ward in South Shields, said he felt a reduction in rental fees could draw more stores in.
On Facebook, Lyn Venus agreed with him, posting: "Maybe reduce the rents!!!"
On the Gazette's website, meanwhile, 'happy crafter' was in pessimistic mood, posting: "IF and it is a big IF this shop ever opens, it will be a miracle.
"I don't think the big department stores like Harrods, Army and Navy stores, John Lewis, House of Frazer, Marks and Spencer and others have anything to worry about.
"Bring one of those stores to Shields and I might just might consider returning as a shopper, till then MetroCentre here I come and free parking has nothing to do with my decision."