A 78-year-old grandmother is leading a campaign to keep Accrington’s historic Marks and Spencer store in the town.
Eunice Duckworth petitioned outside the flagship town centre store on Broadway last weekend and collected more than 2,000 signatures in opposition to the impending closure, announced earlier this month.
Campaigners say Accrington’s elderly population - like Eunice - will be hardest hit by the loss of the department chain.
Eunice said: “I think it will take the heart out of the town. Everybody I know goes in there at least once a week. We have to do something.
“I have always gone to that Marks and Spencer. I went with my mum, my daughter goes and my grandchildren go - we always see something we need.”
Eunice, who was petitioning with her daughter Corby Hacker, said she has concerns for elderly people who regularly use the shop for food shopping and may struggle to reach other supermarkets, including the new M&S Simply Food set to open in Rawtenstall in place of the Broadway store.
She said: “It will definitely affect older people. People of our age group can’t get up to Tesco and Asda. M&S is right in the town centre and they take your bag to the car park for you.
“It will just leave a big hole in everybody’s lives. Older people will really be affected. They are going up to Rawtenstall but people from Accrington who haven’t got cars can’t get up there.”
It is feared the closure could have a ‘domino effect’ on other shops in the town centre.
Colette McCormack, who runs Xquisite Designer Dress Agency on Warner Street, said it could have a huge effect on Accrington.
She said: “Everybody is up in arms about it. The shoppers who have supported it through all these years feel they have been abandoned, especially the older people who have nowhere else to go for that sort of thing.
“I would encourage everybody to sign the petition. I think it will have a big impact on the traders too. A lot of shops will feel a knock-on effect of people not coming into town as much.”
Crunch talks between council and Arndale Centre bosses were due to take place this week in a bid to find out future options for the unit currently occupied by M&S.
Council leaders also plan to sit down with M&S bosses next week in a bid to get the decision reversed.
The Broadway shop is set to close in May after 53 years in Accrington. The 28 staff working in the Accrington store will be offered roles at the new M&S Simply Food set to open at New Hall Hey Retail Park, in Rawtenstall, and at other existing stores.
More than 1,000 people have already lent their support to an online petition asking bosses of the high street giant to reverse their decision.