Northumberland Marks & Spencer shoppers express sadness as Hexham store closes for final time

Marks & Spencer shoppers have expressed their sadness on the store's last day of trading in Hexham.

The retail giant announced on February 27 that its store on Hexham's Maiden Walk would close, putting the decision down to "changing consumer habits". And on Saturday, the store finally had it's last day trading, with customers noting a "subdued" atmosphere with empty shelves inside.

Hexham residents set up a petition in an attempt to save their store days after the announcement. But despite racking up more than 2,500 signatures, it was ultimately unsuccessful. The Sunderland M&S store also closed down following its final day today.

One of the Hexham store's regular customers, Margaret Stephenson, was one of many who had come down for one last shopping trip. Speaking to Chronicle Live, she said: "I come here for my shopping every week, so [the closure] will make a big difference. I'm not really sure where to go now, whether to go to Waitrose or Tesco or whatever. I won't be going to the Metro Centre or Kingston Park every week."

Margaret Stephenson.
Margaret Stephenson. -Credit:Newcastle Chronicle

She added: "Also, I'm in the Marks & Spencer club, so I get benefits and free coffee tokens sent every quarter, which I use in the café. So I might as well come out of the club, you pay to be in it but I won't be getting any of the benefits. You get a token on your birthday and things, so yes it's quite a big difference and I'm just really sorry that it's gone."

Friends Patricia Hind and Brenda Armstrong are also regular customers, who are upset to see the store go. Patricia said: "I'm very sad, terrible. They could have opened another one, there's some shops empty in Hexham but they didn't bother." She added: "It's very sad, I've been coming for the last 11 years here."

Patricia Hind and Brenda Armstrong.
Patricia Hind and Brenda Armstrong. -Credit:Newcastle Chronicle

Another shopper noted how the staff and customers seemed "subdued" in the store, with empty shelves as it prepares to close. The closure is part of M&S's announcement in 2023 that it would close 67 closures across the country over the next five years. It has, however, announced new openings - including the Galleries expansion - and changes for North East sites as part of a £13m regional investment manager.

Should staff take up the alternative roles within the business, it will mean travel to the company’s stores at either Kingston Park, Newcastle, or the Metrocentre in Gateshead if they are not able to work from home.