ON The Marks & Spencer store is still a sign of pride in the streets across the country - often one of the city's largest and best-visited stores. But the rise of online shopping and cheaper competitors like Primark, which appeals to younger buyers, means M & S is facing an existential threat, with at least 100 deals being closed as part of a reinvention plan.
On Tuesday, M & S unveiled the locations of another 17 outlets on the closing list, many in cities where M & S has been operating for more than a century. "There is an emotional attachment to M & S," said Dan Simms of real estate consultancy Colliers International on the public's response to the closures.
"M & S used to be the number one and major retailer in the city, and many people still have that as their understanding," said Simms. "In some of these cities, it's the last big name ... They've already lost BHS and House of Fraser, so they feel the effects of rolling store losses."
The Guardian looked at each of the 17 cities where M & S will soon be history to see if it is missing and why.
Antrim (the crossroads)
The only Outlet store on the list, M & S is one of the biggest names in the Junction Park, with a 10-screen cinema as North Ireland's favorite shopping and recreation destination. The mayor of Antrim and Newtownabbey, Paul Michael, said he was disappointed with the closure and concerned about the inevitable layoffs. Footwear retailer Clarks also closed its store last year, but the owner of Junction, Lotus Property, insisted the project had a bright future with plans for a £ 30 million overhaul and a Nando opening this year.
The loss of a flagship tenant in Ashford County Square Mall is a heavy blow to the city of Kent. Ashford was selected as a pilot city in 2011 after the high-street review by TV chain Mary Portas. Ashford was hailed as an example of retail regeneration. M & S will still have a food hall and an outlet nearby, which could hit the number of shoppers. "It's really sad," said Jo James, head of the Kent Invicta Chamber of Commerce. "It will be a big blow and will give people less reason to come to the city center."
M & S has been present in the Cumbrous City for more than a century, and local MP John Woodcock described his departure as a terrible news. The store, which thousands of locals rely on, says, "I really feel for the staff who are ready. I lose their jobs ... I want to explore every possible way for the company to change its mind. "If it goes on, the nearest M & S clothing store in Kendal is close to an hour's drive, which makes it a shopping mission for Diehards.
Buyer Margaret Lowe was "shocked" by the closure of Marks & Spencer in Bedford city center. The 75-year-old goes two miles twice a week to the city and usually calls to the store. "Marks & Spencer is part of every city," Lowe said. "It is good value for money, the food is fantastic and the staff is always good. I also come here because of the clothes. I would buy sweaters, pants and T-shirts, and here I buy all my underwear. "In the shop, several elderly people bump into each other.
Jessica Farmer, 30, said, "It's been here since I was a little girl. I came with my nan. I'll definitely miss it and for the older generation it's where they feel good. It's really sad. "The store is in the middle of the main shopping street, a typical British main street with WH Smith, Boots, Waterstones, New Look, Debenhams, Primark, a big empty unit, in the BHS and BHS at home were other empty shops. Passing by were Saffron Jarvis and Steph Radcliffe, who were out of their last mock exam in the city on a late Thursday morning. "It will not be a big loss, but it was kind of nice to have it there," said Jarvis, 18th. "17-year-old Radcliffe was less worried:" If I went shopping with my friends, I'd go Milton Keynes because there are more shops at my age. "
"Boston is slowly being deprived of big retailers, and we should have a voice!" Say the creators of a Facebook group called Save our Boston M & S. Like other provincial towns, Boston has difficulty adjusting to changing shopping habits. "Retail is changing to unprecedented proportions," said Richard Broadhead, managing director of a traditional local department store chain, Oldrids, to the Boston Standard. "We have been in Boston for over 200 years. The simple fact, however, is that stores like our own only exist while people help us with local shopping. "
"We Buxtonians have always had Marks & Spencer. It is very sad, "said Jean Bell (77) and left the Derbyshire store. Megan Middleton, 20, comes only for food specials, but she is also worried that the closure will accelerate the descent of pretty main street. Where once specialty stores were traded, charities have opened. Assistant Andrea Harris, 46, regularly brings her mother here - the nearest shop is 19 km away. "I can not tell you how many times I've said," I'll meet you outside of M & S, "she said." It's the legacy, I went to school in M & S uniform and I have my kids still in M & S uniform. "
M & S's Ebbw Vale business closes on Saturday and Cwmbran will be next - the retailer will leave with only 23 stores in Wales. Torfaen MPs Nick Thomas-Symonds and AM, Lynne Neagle, have requested an urgent meeting with the company to discuss the decision to leave the 170-store mall Cwmbran. "This is terrible news for both the staff and the local community," they said in a joint statement.
More than 4,000 people have already signed a petition demanding the storage of the Kent department store. The signatories make a strong case: "Without M & S the deal is lost on the main road," wrote Jenny Egelnick. "There is a large elderly population that can not travel far, poor public transport and M & S offers so many needs under one roof. They also keep the other main shops open. "Jane Francis claimed the store was always busy and added," Deal is a popular destination for the wealthy London bohos who are appalled to have no grocery store in their city. Not to mention locals who love it all and exploit hell. People before profit. "
The inhabitants of this coastal city have also started a petition "Save it". Geoff Holdcroft, deputy chairman of the Suffolk Coast Council, described Felixstowe as "very up". He noted the number of visitors in 2018 and plans several thousand new homes: "I hope that this prime location will be captured by a far-sighted new business."
Open: 1894, relocated in 1934
"Did M & S go crazy?" Asked Huddersfield MP Barry Sheerman. "Huddersfield is a typical city in the UK, and if they can not do it in a thriving university town like Huddersfield, they're in big trouble." The MP told the Huddersfield Examiner that he wanted a "strong case" to keep the store open. With Leeds on the doorstep, Huddersfield's businesses are struggling. BHS has gone as the future of the house of Fraser and HMV is uncertain.
Open: before 1900
After the city's success as a city of culture, M & S's decision to leave historic Whitefriargate was described as devastating by Kathryn Shillito, head of the business improvement district. "Especially around Whitefriargate and the M & S building there is a real nostalgia." The closure means that the next big M & S is across the Humber Bridge in Scunthorpe. Hull Daily Mail readers quickly said, "We need less retail and more downtown housing," wrote one. Another added, "House of Fraser has been rescued. Hopefully M & S will see the light. "
Open: 1906, relocated in 2009
The closure of the M & S branch in Arndale will leave a big hole in a city already shaken by empty shops. The news is a blow to Irene and Bill Saul. "We are here quite often, two or three times a week," said Irene (71). "I am a very loyal Marks customer ..." Bill, 68, added, "If that works, what do you want?" Put it in its place It will be a stain. All empty shops. It's a shame, this high street, right? "But Manisha Thakur, 22, who moved to Luton four years ago, was more optimistic. "I love this place, M & S is a bit expensive for me, the clothes are not good, but I like the cakes, I'll miss that."
Last year, M & S withdrew from its move to a larger store in a new local retail center. Now the store is closing in the city center, forcing shoppers to visit Lincoln instead. "We are adapting to changing customer habits, which means we have to make some difficult decisions," said Paula Varley, M & S Regional Director for South Yorkshire and East Midlands.
"I've been coming here since childhood," complained Dennis Woodward, 80, before going inside to buy groceries. "If they shut that up, what's going to go in there?" He added, pointing to the empty units in Baron's Quay, a neighboring shopping complex. The Chester City Council is planning a meeting with the company to encourage staying, but not all will be saddened when M & S will leave. "The thing about M & S is that it's an older generation business," said 44-year-old Denise Bradley. "If they can not get rid of this stigma, it's probably always going to be that way."
Opened: relocated in 1894, 1934 and 2004
M & S moved out of the city center into a huge new business in a commercial park, but is now leaving this location as well. Some locals say they prefer cheaper neighborhood stores like Primark and Morrisons, but 62-year-old rider Steve Taylor will miss it: "It's sad. I keep looking to work to get some trifles - you build a little bit with the cashier girls. "
Locals say closing the store in Gracechurch shopping center would be a tragedy for a city center where the future of House of Fraser is also uncertain. "I am an employee and I am heartbroken," said Sapna Kumari on Facebook. "We are all in Sutton Marks like a family." But some buyers offer harsh love: "If I was a director, I would not keep it open," wrote Alice Foley. "The parking fees discourage people and the opening hours are outdated. I'm one hundred percent dearer than Tamworth. "
Open: 1907was resettled in 1954
The coastal city got a shot in 2015 as visitors flocked to Banksy's Dismaland, and there is local optimism about regeneration. Weston MP John Penrose insisted that his "economic rebirth" was going well: "We can not derail any single store - even a well known one like M & S."