Marks and Spencer shoppers ‘devastated’ by city centre store closure

Marks and Spencer shoppers in Sunderland will bid farewell to one of the city branches this month in a wave of store closures.

The high street brand will pull down the shutters on its High Street West store on May 25, 2024.

It comes after several decades of trade, during which thousands of shoppers have flocked to the grand art-deco building which houses the M&S store.

Marks and Spencer credited the store closure to “changing shopping habits”, despite locals claiming that the store is a pillar of Sunderland’s city centre.

One shopper proclaimed on X, formerly Twitter: “Dear Marks & Spencer. We in Sunderland are devastated about losing our city centre store. We need it so much.”

Another chimed: “Well, if 2024 couldn’t get worse (& it will!)…We’re now losing Marks & Spencer from Sunderland. I can hear ghosts of millions who have used this shop in this great city. They are crying. And it is such a blow for our ageing community.”

However, it’s not all bad news as despite the looming closure, residents in the area will welcome a new M&S store by the end of the month.

The company confirmed it will open a brand branch at the Washington Galleries, a shopping centre in Sunderland, on May 30.

One caveat to this is that the new site is a seven-mile journey from the existing city centre shop, making it tough for some shoppers to reach.

Speaking previously in an ITV Tyne Tees News report, a retail expert warned that moving to an out-of-town shopping centre “might not work in a city like Sunderland”.

Retail consultant Graham Soult told ITV News: “It’s worth noting that in Sunderland, 30 percent of households don’t actually have a car so it’s not so easy to up sticks and go and shop at the Galleries, if you close a store in the centre of Sunderland.”

Sadly, however, it’s just one of the latest store closures from Marks and Spencer, and won’t be the last this year.

In 10 days, shoppers local to the Broadway Shopping Centre, Bradford will bid farewell to their M&S store on May 18, with another in Green Street, Neath, expected to go some time this month. 

It comes as part of plans to restructure the business and focus more on food-only stores, known as M&S Foodhalls.

In October 2022, Marks and Spencer announced it would shut 67 “lower productivity” locations over the following five years.

However, closures were not the only initiatives disclosed by the retailer – plans to introduce 104 new “bigger and fresher” food outlets have also been announced.

Major cities including Liverpool and Leeds have already welcomed brand-new M&S shops.

Further expansion plans involve the opening of over 100 larger Foodhall sites by 2028 and M&S aims to manage 180 full-line (consisting of clothing, homeware and food) and 400 food halls within the following five years.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *