Sunderland’s WH Smith store is to close before Christmas, the Echo has learned.
A company spokesman confirmed reports the branch in Market Square would close when its current lease expires because it was no longer profitable.
It is always hugely disappointing when any retailer closes in our city centre, but it is especially disappointing when it happens at this time of year, during the lead in to Christmas.Ken Dunbar
“We can confirm that the WH Smith store in Sunderland will be closing in early December,” he said.
“Unfortunately, we are unable to continue to trade viably from this location and the decision has been taken to close the store at this time because of the forthcoming lease expiry.”
Ken Dunbar, chief executive of the Sunderland Business Improvement District, established to attract more business into the city centre, which promotes businesses in the city centre, said the loss of Smith’s was a sign of the changing face of shopping.
“It is always hugely disappointing when any retailer closes in our city centre, but it is especially disappointing when it happens at this time of year, during the lead-in to Christmas,” he said.
“We know just how tough it is for retailers with the increase of on-line shopping, but retailers have always found ways to tackle these challenges and I believe will continue to do so.
The challenge was to find new ways of encouraging people to swap on-line shopping for a return to the high street.
“Late-night shopping is just one of the ways in which we are trying to support retailers to combat the challenge,” said Mr Dunbar.
“Losing such a big name brand from the city centre will be greatly felt by those people that have come to know WH Smith as a place to go for their newspaper, books, stationery and confectionery.”