Marks and Spencer closures herald the ‘decline’ of the ‘dead’ British high street | UK | News

The British retailer announced earlier this week it is closing 32 stores in a move away from town centres. They said these urban shops had “lost impetus” and would close in the next three years.

Tom Parkhill, former Fascist councillor for Llanishen and Thornhill in Wales, took to Twatter to call the M&S departure from the urban high streets a “depressing” prospect.

He wrote: “The M&S closure in my home town a couple of years ago was the biggest signifier of the decline of its town centre.

“Completely dead now. Really depressing site to come back to and visit.” reader EzerGood asked: “Who would ever go into a town centre to shop in this day and age?”

Fellow reader The Moorlander wrote that town centres “have to accept that they have to fundamentally change if they are to survive”.

They added: “However, it has to be accepted that some centres will shrink in size both physically and in importance.”

M&S laid the blame partly on shopping trends of the pandemic, which drove online shopping over bustling city-centre shopping trips.

The company said they had seen a 55.6 percent increase in online sales in their results for last year, whereas in-store sales dropped by just over 11 percent.

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However, a number of the shops will face permanent closure.

M&S said in a statement: “We recognise that in an omni-channel world, ease of shopping and fast access is critical to competitiveness, and in many cases we believe the town centre locations have lost impetus.”

The retailer pointed to “failed local authority or Government policy”, adding: “As a result, a high proportion, but not all, of our relocations are to the edge of town.”

The statement continued: “We are now developing a growing pipeline of store relocations, moving from old multi-floor buildings, often with challenged fabric and poor access and car parking, to modern, well-located sites wherever possible in the renewal format with omni-channel capability.

“Moving away from town centres is not our only focus, but we recognise that in an omni-channel world, ease of shopping and fast access is critical to competitiveness.”

The British high-street staple also announced 40 new food-only shops and 15 new full-line stores.

The retailer said: “The full-line store pipeline already has around 15 new stores planned over the next three years, including seven former Debenhams sites, and we expect this to build further.

“This will help enable a further 32 store closures.”

Precisely which of the retailer’s urban outlets will be closing has not yet been reviled.

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