Thousands of people have already signed a petition calling on John Lewis to rethink plans to shut its Aberdeen store.
The George Street department store is the only one in Scotland earmarked for closure.
Shoppers quickly shared their dismay at the news, which comes just weeks after the Granite City lost Debenhams, Dorothy Perkins, Burtons, Wallis and Topshop.
Online petitions have also been launched, with loyal shopper Diane Wood’s Save Our John Lewis Store in Aberdeen one hitting more than 4,000 signatures in just a few hours.
In her introduction on the Change.org petition, she said: “Today’s announcement to close John Lewis in Aberdeen came as a huge shock and disappointment that will be reverberated around the north-east of Scotland and beyond.
“John Lewis was our only department store between the Central Belt and covers the north-east and Highlands too.
“People travel for miles to come to the store. The staff have always been wonderful and although the store has been quiet due to lockdown, because no one was allowed to travel, we need to stand up and fight to keep the heart in Aberdeen.”
Council leader backs petition
The Press and Journal and Evening Express are backing the calls for action.
And city council co-leader Douglas Lumsden echoed Ms Wood’s message as he gave it his backing, adding it was “key” others do the same.
— Douglas Lumsden (@dlumsden) March 24, 2021
He said: “I see there’s already a couple of petitions being set up, I’ve put my name to one of those already.
“I think that’s a key thing – the people of Aberdeen really need to demonstrate to John Lewis what the store closing would mean to them.
“Hopefully the wave of public opinion will make John Lewis take note and think again. That’s what I’m pinning my hopes on.”
Barry Black, who is hoping to win the Aberdeen Central seat for Labour at the May election, has also set up a petition, which has a further 400 signatures.
Co-leader Jenny Laing urged people to get involved and warned the closure would have a “significant impact” on the city.
“My thoughts are with the 245 partners who are facing new uncertainty at the worst possible time during the Covid-19 pandemic,” she said.
“While I’m pleased John Lewis has confirmed a retraining package, this cannot be lip service and we need to see a serious commitment to their welfare.
“We have seen the Scottish Government willing to step in before with companies like Bi-Fab, its time the north-east saw some of the active investment that the SNP are always willing to make in the Central Belt.”
Councillor Marie Boulton, who is driving forward the city centre masterplan, added: “It has been recognised that shopping habits for many have been forced to move online due to Covid and acceptance that there was already people shopping regularly online prior to Covid.
“But I believe that the high street can be a part of the changing retail environment in the UK not a casualty, but this requires a major shift by governments in being prepared to offer financial incentives.
“I think Covid has given a value to being able to visit shops in person, I think retail therapy is still something people want to do in a store and not by clicking a button.”
Eight stores to close
A total of eight John Lewis shops are proposed for closure as the retailing giant rebalances its estate as customers shopping habits change.
Other department stores expected to shut include sites in Peterborough, Sheffield and York, along with include four ‘At Home’ chains in Ashford, Basingstoke, Chester and Tunbridge Wells.
All of these shops were financially challenged prior to the pandemic.
John Lewis believes that the performance of these stores cannot be “substantially improved” with them expecting 60-70% of sales to be made online in the future.