SHOPPERS have been left reeling at the news two landmark stores in Sheffield could close as a consequence of the squeeze on consumer spending.
TJ Hughes and stores belonging to Sheffield-founded Thorntons face closure in the city after shock announcements yesterday.
Liverpool-based department store chain TJ Hughes, which runs 57 shops including one in Sheffield and another in Doncaster, gave official notice that it intends to appoint an administrator over the next 10 days.
The move puts more than 4,000 jobs in jeopardy.
And chocolate shop Thorntons, which was originally founded on Norfolk Street in the city centre 100 years ago and later had a factory on Archer Road, Millhouses, revealed it was closing up to 180 stores, affecting more than 1,100 employees.
The survival plan will leave Thorntons with around 180-200 company-owned stores, although in the majority of locations it hopes franchisees will open outlets.
Its strategy review will see the company increasingly focus on its commercial division, which sells Thorntons-branded chocolate through other retailers, and grow online sales.
It aims to make the business less dependent on seasonal events such as Christmas and Easter by increasing the number of gifts it sells.
TJ Hughes shopper Joan Colley, 72, a retired printer, from Foxhill, said it would be a real shame if the city centre store was to close.
“It’s the last large shop trading down this end of town. I get everything I need there. My bedding, glassware, towels, clothes and shoes - you name it.”
Kathleen Cook, a support worker for the homeless, said: “For me it’s the best shop in Sheffield. If it closes there will only be the posh shops left and ordinary people can’t afford to shop in places like that.”
Retired joiner David Storey, 67, from Low Edges, had popped into the city centre with his wife Shirley.
He said: “I’m certainly surprised at the news.
“I think it’s a great shop. Look at these bowling shoes. Anywhere else £50. Here at Hughes, £15. The shop is just great.”
His wife Shirley, 64, a retired bookies clerk, added: “We often come into town just to go to TJ’s.
“It sells everything from really nice breakfasts to stuff for the garden.”
Up the road on Fargate, Margaret Short, aged 71, a retired primary school teacher from Botanical Gardens, was buying a present for her friend at Thorntons.
She said: “It makes you wonder what shop will go next. Sheffield will soon have no nice little shops like Thorntons at all.”
And Margaret Barry, 78, from Dronfield Woodhouse, said: “Pretty soon the only thing open in Sheffield will be charity shops and mobile phone stores.”