THERE is more bad news for Newport’s Commercial Street as four more shops are set to be lost – with the threat of closure hanging over a fifth.
Yesterday also marked High Street giant Marks & Spencer’s last day in Newport city centre before the store relocates to Spytty Retail Park today.
Shoppers leaving the M&S for the last time described it as a sad day for the city centre.
And shoppers will soon be able to walk from Santander bank to Barclays bank without passing another shop in between on the left-hand side of the road.
That’s because the exodus of shops continues apace.
Clothes store Internacionale confirmed that their last day of trading will be January 21, while next door, record shop HMV’s future remains unclear after the chain, which also has a store in Cwmbran, went into administration.
A short distance away on the other side of the street, clothes retailer Suit U has now left its unit, as has toy shop Total Toys, which used to be next door to M&S.
Clothes shop Pilot is also running a closing-down sale.
Store manager Lisa Owen, 31, from Rogerstone, said she understood rent and business rates had been the main factors in the decision to close.
“The shop’s going to close on Valentine’s Day and all six of the staff, including myself, have been made redundant,” she said.
“I’m not sure what I’m going to do next. I’m a single mum and have worked all my life so it is a real worry.
“I’m going to try and set up a market stall, maybe in Blackwood, but until I set that up I’m going to have to go to the Jobcentre. It’s very sad.”
A Newport council spokeswoman says the authority is disappointed that shops in the city centre are closing, some because of problems the firms are facing across all their stores.
She said: “The council has fought very hard to persuade key stores such as Marks and Spencer to stay in their current locations and certainly recognise the important contribution that smaller and independent stores make.”
'It’s such a shame', say sorrowful customers
SHOPPERS at M&S on its last day were saddened by its loss to the city centre.
Wallace Poynton, 86, of Maindee, Newport, said: “I think it’s terrible they’re moving to Spytty.
“I can’t drive and the bus only runs out there once an hour, while a taxi would cost me about £4.
“I know I’m older, but I have always been used to shopping on the High Street so it’s a sad day for Newport.”
Georgina Harrold, 50, who works in the city centre, said: “I won’t go to the new shop in Spytty because I work in the city centre and this one was convenient.”
Jo Williams, 68, from Christchurch, said: “It’s disgusting that it’s going.
“I don’t drive and the bus I can catch back home from Spytty is 5.20pm so I won’t have time to get there and catch that bus back after work.”
Tanya James, 34, from Risca, said: “I work in the city centre so it has been convenient having it here.
“It will be a lot less convenient having to drive there if I do want to go.”
Jobs at risk as film chain in trouble
FIFTEEN Gwent jobs at three video rental stores could be at risk after a major retailer went into administration yesterday.
Blockbuster, which has stores in Blackwood, Newport and Ebbw Vale and employs around five people at each, is the latest high-profile High Street casualty after HMV went into administration earlier this week.
Deloitte, which is handling the administration, said the company will continue to trade as normal while a buyer is sought.
During that time gift cards and credit acquired through Blockbuster’s trade-in scheme will be honoured towards the purchase of goods.
Joint administrator Lee Manning said the core of the business is still profitable.
He said: “In recent years Blockbuster has faced increased competition from internet-based providers along with the shift to digital streaming of movies and games.
“We are working closely with suppliers and employees to ensure the business has the best possible platform to secure a sale, preserve jobs and generate as much value as possible for all creditors.”