‘Broadmead is dying, look around’ - Bristol shoppers say they’ll go to Bath after ‘shock’ M&S closure
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Gutted Bristol shoppers have shared their fond memories of Marks and Spencer on Broadmead - and threatened to take their business elsewhere to Bath - as the store prepares to down shutters for good after 72 years.
Long queues were pictured winding across the store floor when BristolWorld visited the popular shop today, with customers flocking to grab one last bargain.
There was an air of urgency and also sadness as the second floor had been closed off and much of the stock already scaled back.
Concerningly, most of the shoppers we spoke to said they would be more likely to travel to M&S in Bath than at Cribbs Causeway, taking vital business out of Bristol.
Sharon Smithen, who was brought up in Bristol and has visited the shop ever since she was a child, said she was so upset about the store’s closure she wrote to Bristol mayor Marvin Rees in protest.
“I’ve been coming to this store for decades, it’s just part of my life,” she told BristolWorld.
“Bristol is such a huge city and it seems utterly crazy to me that soon it won’t have a Marks and Spencer, which is really an anchor shop on high streets and shopping centres.
“Everyone talks about Bristol going green, but it will take me over an hour to get to another branch on the bus.
“The city centre is dying, look around you.
“Sure, there are shops for younger people, but nothing that appeals to my demographic. If you’re 45 plus, heading into your 50s, where do you shop?
“The Food Hall is also a real tradition,” Ms Smithen added.
“I always got my chocolate cherries and ordered the turkey from here, it’s somewhere everyone goes and has always gone when they want to get something a bit nicer.
“To be honest, I feel quite suspicious of the closure as the store doesn’t look like it’s been touched since the 1980s.
“It’s run down and a state inside which reflects the other shops along Broadmead, which are all looking a bit tatty.
“I actually go to Bath quite a lot now and probably will be doing more of that in the future. It’s always smarter, tidier and the shopping there is just a pleasant experience.
“They say everyone is shopping online right now and it’s just not true. People like to come into shops and feel the quality of the goods and now that’s being denied to us.”
Rex and Bridget Phare, a married couple from just outside the city, said they had been coming to the store for 35 years.
“We bought a lot of our children’s clothes from here,” said Bridget. “And all their school uniforms, they’re in their 40s now. Then clothes for our grandchildren. It’s really sad.”
Rex said: “Broadmead is dying. This is going to finish it off, I think.”
Alan Lockey, who is originally from Reading where the high street is ‘struggling like Broadmead’, said: “I used to work in retail and if you had a shop near an M&S, you knew it would be good for business because M&S has always pulled a lot of people in.
“I’m not happy about it all, it was very convenient to have a store here in the city centre.
“This is all thanks to the internet, and I don’t shop online. People like to see the items they’re buying.
“A lot of my friends have started going to Bath, where the M&S in my opinion is much better, much larger and with more variety.
“Now that Debenhams is gone too, Bristol city centre is starting to look a bit messy.”
Maria Georgantzoglou said: “My partner and I found out the store was closing in November and it was quite a shock because whenever we’ve come in it’s always so busy.
“I’m originally from Greece and have lived in Bristol for seven years, it’s somewhere I’ve always shopped at when I want a bit of luxury.
“I think there will be a different vibe to Broadmead from now on as the store attracted all sorts of people.
“I doubt I’ll go to the store in Cribbs Causeway. The Bath store sounds more appealing as you can make a day out of it.”
A woman who did not wish to be named said: “I’ve been coming here since it opened as a little girl, I’m in my 70s now.
“It’s a real shock. I remember when there used to be an M&S in Bedminster, back in the day. I didn’t ever think the Broadmead store would close too.”
The store will open one final time at 9am tomorrow (Saturday, January 8).
A staff member told BristolWorld the store would close when all the stock runs out.
BristolWorld has approached Marks and Spencer for comment.