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‘I’m so sad’, shoppers gutted as beloved four-storey high street department store announced it’s closing after 116 years

A BELOVED four-storey department store has announced its closure after 116 years, leaving shoppers devastated.

The Guild, in Park Street, Bristol, will shut its doors for good at the end of the month.

A beloved four-storey department store in Bristol closes after 116 years
Google

The Guild posted the sad news on social media on May 1 as it kicked off its last sale.

The post read: “As some of you may already know the Guild is closing down. Last trading day is May 30. Sale starts today at 10.30am.”

The store, which spans across four floors, opened in 1908 and even survived the Bristol Blitz during World War Two.

It was later purchased by crafts enthusiast Ken Stradling who passed away in 2022.

He was awarded an MBE in 2020 for his contribution to the city’s cultural life.

During the store’s lifetime, it has become an arts hub which promoted local high-quality craft goods and held many exhibitions in the Gallery.

Loyal customers are sobbing the demise of the popular mall, which sells a broad range of items from candles to furniture and gin.

Charlotte Sellers, a former employee of the Guild, told BBC: “Even as a teenager covering Christmas shifts, to work there was to be part of a Bristol institution.

“It’s something I was – and still am – very proud of.

“There’s nowhere like the Guild. Park Street and Bristol will be at a loss without it.”

Jo Barnes worked as part-time at the store in 1981, and climbed the career ladder to the head of jewellery in just three years.

She told BBC: “I was so sad to hear it is closing as I have lots of happy memories of working there.

“Since then I regularly visited for shopping trips. It’s a Bristol institution and will be sadly missed.

“It’s a huge loss to the city. A unique shop with a wonderful history selling crafts which you couldn’t find anywhere else.”

Hundreds of shoppers have flocked to the comments to express their sadness over the store’s closure.

People have mourned “the end of an era”, with many recalling their fond memories of the mall from as early as the 70s.

One person wrote: “Such a pity. Wonderful store. I’ve shopped there nearly all my life. And I’m old!”

Another one added: “I’ve been a fan of Bristol Guild since I moved to Bristol in 1977. Such a shame that it’s closing.”

A third person commented: “Sad!!! Twas a part of Bristol’s history!! A beautiful feature… Marks the end of an era!!”

“A bit of old Bristol, a great shop in its day, unique, I’m very sad!” someone else said.

Other customers have noted that the store has been slowly deteriorating over the years.

One such customer said: “I once loved that shop. It’s been very sad in recent years to see the demise of an original guild shop.

“It was clear on my last few visits that it’s days were numbered, even the cafe was short of options and empty at lunch time.”

Another one agreed, saying: “Very sad news. But whenever I have been there lately it has been quite empty.

“As with other stores, online shopping has had a powerful impact.”

What is happening to the high street?

The increase in shoppers turning to online retail has seen the high street struggle in recent years.

High energy costs and business rates have hit retailers hard.

This has resulted in many retailers being forced to shut up shop as they can no longer operate within their budgets.

For the most part, supermarkets have braved the storm as they provide essential items like food and drink but other retailers have been less fortunate.

This year, The Body Shop fell into administration and has seen dozens of branches close, 82 will have shut in total by the end of April.

Boots announced it would be closing 300 stores over the next year as part of plans to evolve its brand.

Retailers closing stores in 2024

RETAILERS have been feeling the squeeze since the pandemic, while shoppers are cutting back on spending due to the soaring cost of living crisis.

High energy costs and a move to shopping online are also taking a toll, and many high street shops have struggled to keep going.

Here’s a list of all the big-name brands closing stores this year:

  • Argos – The brand announced plans to close 100 standalone UK branches last year as it looks to move away from the high street and focus on expanding its presence in supermarkets.
  • B&Q – The chain has over 300 shops across the UK, so chances are you have one near you, but some stores have closed in recent months.
  • Boots – The health and beauty chain announced that it would be closing 300 stores last July. Closures are ongoing and this will see the retailer’s estate reduced from 2,200 to 1,900 shops.
  • Clintons – Clintons mulled plans to close 38 shops in a bid to avoid insolvency late last year. We’ve listed the stores affected.
  • Costa Coffee – The caffeine giant has around 2,000 sites nationwide, so chances are you’ll have one near you. The chain has shut the doors to dozens of its sites recently. We’ve revealed which stores are due to close this year.
  • Iceland – The supermarket has more than 900 stores but closed nearly two dozen sites in 2023, and more selected shops are due to shut.
  • Lidl – The supermarket, which has 950 stores, is changing up shop locations, which has meant that some stores have to close. But the retailer is also looking to open 12 new supermarkets.
  • M&S – M&S, which runs 405 stores across the country, has been closing a string of branches across the country in a blow for shoppers. It’s not all bad news, though, because the chain also has big plans to open dozens of new shops as well.
  • Trespass – The firm announced in July last year that it was closing six branches, but more are on the way.
  • WHSmith – The retail giant, which runs over 1,100 stores, has shuttered eight stores since March 2023, but more are coming.
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