Bristol's Marks and Spencer store in Broadmead to close after 70 years

Today marks the final day of trading for the Marks & Spencer store in Broadmead, Bristol. The high street chain has been part of the city's shopping quarter since 1952.

The doors will close at 4pm on Saturday 8 January. The decision is largely down to the pandemic driving people to shop online instead, so in-store sales have dropped.

It is understood the closure is part of a wider reshape by M&S, which has 17 other shops across the South West.

In a statement, a spokesperson for M&S said: "We know that the store closure was disappointing news for some and we would like to thank all the customers who have shopped with us in store, for their support and loyalty - and all our colleagues for their continuing hard work and dedication.

"We will be working hard to keep serving customers in our 17 M&S store across the region, including our stores at Cribbs Causeway and Longwell Green which offer a large range of M&S Food and Clothing & Home products."

It is one of Bristol city centre's best-known stores. Credit: ITV West Country

Many shoppers are upset that the Broadmead store is closing. One said: "I've been shopping here all my life. My brother used to work here for 14 years. It's just such a shame."

Another added: "With the company I worked for, we actually replaced the granite here, and that was 60 years go. The place is really going to be missed by the people of Bristol."

There are 260 premises in the Broadmead district and 47 of them are currently empty. But Vivienne Kennedy, the manager of the Broadmead Business Improvement District (BID) is confident the area will evolve to meet the changing needs of consumers.

She said: "We've got over 100 independent retailers here, which is about a third of the total shops. Some of those are representing other local makers and artists.

Around 18% of the shops in Broadmead are currently empty. Credit: ITV West Country

"As more people move into the city centre, we're seeing businesses that they need on a day-to-day basis. So we've got several supermarkets here already. We've got banks that are investing in the city centre.

"I'm cautiously optimistic that things are going to be ok."

Susannah Streeter, a retail expert with Hargreaves Lansdown, believes the department store concept does not work anymore. BHS closed in 2016 and Debenhams shut its doors last year. She said: "Simply those stores with a smaller footprint and are more agile, seem to be faring better.

"M&S has success in its retail parks, the smaller M&S sites - because people have felt so much more confident to shop there. Wider spaces, easier to park, in the time of Covid."

Over the past 70 years, generations have shopped in and worked at this particular M&S store - one of Bristol's best-known stores.

Broadmead M&S closes at 4pm on Saturday 8 January 2021