Ahead of Stevenage's Wilko store closing on Tuesday next week, the Comet went and spoke to shoppers about this latest blow to the high street.

It was announced earlier this week that the Stevenage branch in the town centre will close on Tuesday, September 19, after the chain fell into administration.

The iconic retail chain, known for being a bargain hunters' paradise, has been struggling due to difficult trading conditions on the high street.

For many of its long-time customers not only are they losing a much-loved shop, they are also losing their relationships with the staff.

Michelle, 53, who lives in Royston but travels to Stevenage specifically to shop in Wilko said: ”I come for the well-priced cleaning and washing stuff and for the staff.

"They are always willing to help you and they are really friendly and make my day.

“I get the feeling that this is a downward turn for Stevenage town centre, because both B&M and TK Maxx left.

“There are too many cafés in the town and not enough reasonably priced shops. I also worry about people, especially the elderly, who don’t drive and can’t get to the retail parks.”

We also spoke to Irene Heath who is 66 and has lived in Stevenage for 30 years.

She told the Comet: “When you’re disabled it’s an extra 25 minute walk to the new shops by Farm Foods, and there’s lots of empty shops in the town.

“There are also too many cars on the road because they are moving all the shops to near the leisure park."

Eighty-eight-year-old Charles Burgess has lived in Stevenage for 50  years was furious at the news of the closure.

The staff are lovely, always very friendly and helpful. I don’t know what we are going to do with all these shops closing.

“There are too many food and clothing shops and not enough ordinary shops, especially shops for men. You can’t even get a TV or DIY equipment without driving out of town anymore."

Another loyal customer Linda, aged 46, used Wilko for craft supplies, and says she will now have to drive to Hobby Craft, pointing to high business rates for the chain's demise. 

The closure has also been a blow fellow businesses in the town centre.

Diana Cornell owns Sticks Stones Spiritual in the Westgate Shopping Centre, and was very concerned about Wilko closing down.

“I used Wilko all the time and it is more or less the local place to get DIY items, light bulbs and dog treats that type of thing,” she said.