'Victorian high streets are doomed' - what you said after the latest shop closure in South Shields

King Street
King Street

Shoppers have been reacting to the news another shop is to close in South Shields town centre.

Browns Cosmetics in Station Approach, off King Street, has announced it had become the latest victim of the problems facing high streets - though hopes to continue operating as an online business.

In further gloomy news, Debenhams, which has a branch in the town, fell into administration today and was taken over by its lenders - a move expected to trigger store closures and job losses.

Gazette readers have had their say on the town centre via our Facebook page.

Margaret Hines said: "What are the council doing to attract retailers? I would happily shop in South Shields for clothes if there were decent shops like H&M, Oasis, Dorothy Perkins... the current choice is rubbish.

"Also if we got M&S food back I’d be over the moon! I used to shop there every week."

Related: 27 shops we've lost from South Shields town centre in the past 10 years

Diane le Marinel said: "They ain't got a clue. Imagine if we did have high street stores such as Top Shop, Primark, H&M etc. The town would be booming. Lower the rent. The income the good shops would make will make a killing.

Their comments sparked a debate on how much South Tyneside Council could realistically do to aid the struggling town centre, with some defending the local authority.

Graham Henderson said: "The rents are set by the private landlords, and business rates are dictated by central government, you may not like the council but you can’t blame them for everything.

"Ask yourself this, what can the council gain from empty shops?"

Rob Mackins said: "Why is this the council’s responsibility? Shopping has changed. People are buying online. People go to out-of-town retail outlets for better deals.

"Ask yourself this. Of the hundred or so people who are outraged above, how many of them actually bought anything in this shop? The reason shops are closing is because we, the public, aren’t spending money in them."

Lee Gosling said: "When will people realise the council are trying to create a link between the ferry, Metro and the seafront via Ocean Rd because that's why people visit Shields now.

"Old Victorian high streets are doomed due to high rents, online retail and out of town shopping centres. I was at the Metrocentre on Sunday, every shop you could possibly need with any amount of restaurants all open and busy and all under one roof, the traditional high streets just can’t complete anymore."

Others were sceptical about the council's efforts to rejuvenate the town centre via the 365 masterplan, which has so far seen The Word open in the Market Place, work take shape on the new transport interchange, and various environmental improvements.

Laura May Blakey said: "Spending all this money on the new interchange to attract new people to the town centre there's no shops left to attract them too."

Denny Moore said: "Don’t worry the new bus interchange will be ready soon to take more shoppers out the town."

Hannah Margaret Cuthbert said: "Surely these private landlords aren’t going to make any money if they shops stand empty? Therefore it makes better business sense for them to lower the rent... attracting retailers, which attracts customers, which boosts business, which attracts bigger retailer."

Diane le Marinel gave a passionate defence on the town centre and said people needed to make sure their money was spent wisely in ways that would help the community.

She said: "South shields in my eyes is a strong community. Why cant we have high street stores, food chains, leisure facilities, pubs, clubs, good schools?

"I love having my town centre close by. I would rather put my hard-earned pennies into my local community and amenities than have to travel further afield. There's a foundation to work from, they just need a top coordinator to sort out all the flaws."