Marks and Spencer’s shoppers devastated as ‘essential’ South London store at risk of closure

By Staff

Shoppers have been left devastated after Marks and Spencer revealed plans to close a South London store that has served locals for over 100 years. The British retailer announced it was considering shutting its branch in Walworth, South East London last week due to changing shopping habits.

Customers visiting the store on Walworth Road on Monday (March 18) expressed shock at the news. Some said they thought out of control shoplifting in the area was behind the decision.

Anne Purcell, who was visiting the store with her daughter Catherine Durkin, said the loss of Marks and Spencer from the high street would be ‘terrible’ for Walworth. She said: “It’s so essential. It’s always so busy – especially at the weekends.

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“I’ve been coming here for 25 years. I come in for fruit and groceries mostly and I buy some clothes as well.”

Her daughter, Catherine, added: “It’s such a shame. It’s handy for mum because it’s not too far for her to travel on her own and it’s less busy than in Central London.”

June O’Shea, 61, said she was worried about the gap the store’s absence would leave on the street. She said: “It’s devastating for the Walworth Road. Marks and Spencer draws people from all around here.

“It’s going to bring the high street down not having it here. I think it has had a problem with shoplifting. I see it more and more around here.”

Dannica Joseph, 33, said it was a shame the store was closing, adding that she’d opt to do her shopping from Marks and Spencer online in the future. She said: “It’s terrible. I go there for kids’ clothes and pieces for school uniforms.

“The clothes are good quality compared to other places. I’m going to have to try online in the future. I’ll be sad to see it go.”

Another shopper, who gave her name only as Liz, added: “It’s not the busiest M&S but it’s steady so I’m a bit surprised. I imagine the amount of shoplifting around here doesn’t make things any easier for them.”

In January 2024, there were 25 incidents of shoplifting reported in North Walworth, where the Marks and Spencer store is located, according to Met Police statistics. The figure is slightly higher than the 19 reported in January 2023 in the area, but almost triple the nine cases reported two years ago in January 2022.

Gordon Scott, regional manager at Marks and Spencer, said: “Shopping habits are changing, so we’re rotating our store estate to make sure we have the right stores with the right space to offer customers a brilliant shopping experience. As part of this transformation, last week we announced to colleagues our proposal to close the M&S Walworth Road store.

“Our priority right now is talking to colleagues about what the announcement means for them. Should the proposals go ahead, wherever possible we will offer them alternative roles with M&S. Over the last two years alone, we have invested over £23 million in our stores across London.”

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