Published: 17:05, 19 October 2021
| Updated: 09:28, 20 October 2021
Another retail giant has confirmed it will be closing one of its high street stores.
WHSmith in Gillingham will be closing its doors in the New Year and has launched a closing down sale ahead of the Christmas period.
The store front currently has signs displayed in windows with up to 30% off books and stationery as "everything must go" and it has been confirmed the final day of trading will be on January 8.
A WHSmith spokesman said: "Unfortunately, we are unable to continue to trade viably from this location and the decision has been taken to close the store as a result of the forthcoming lease expiry.
"As one of the largest supporters of the UK high street, we are disappointed to be losing our presence in Gillingham and we would like to thank all our customers for their support and for shopping with us.
"We are also extremely grateful for the commitment of our in store colleagues who we will support with this transition and redeploy to nearby stores, where possible."
The shop located on the east end of the street near the station is iconic to the town with the area being known as 'Smiths Square' amongst residents.
Ward councillor for Gillingham North, Cllr Adam Price (Lab), said: "It is sad that Smiths is closing after having been present in the High Street for many years.
"This is probably due to more and more stationery, newspapers and magazines being delivered to people’s homes via the internet."
But it is not all bad news for Gillingham as Cllr Price emphasised how the high street has benefited from "café culture" as eateries are being allowed to open out onto pedestrian areas with tables and chairs.
He added the Post Office which operates out of the current WHSmith has been consulting as to where it can relocate and Ward's card shop and newsagent in the west end of the high street has been identified as a possible new location.
Cllr Price also commented on new services coming to the town, saying: "Britton House has also been opened by Kent and Medway Partnership Trust in the former Budgens and Co-op mall (owned by Medway Council) as their new location for community mental health services."
The announcement is the next in a long list of retailers to leave the town centre which saw HSBC close in March this year.
The next nearest WHSmith store is located in Hempstead Valley in Gillingham.