SHOPPERS spoke of their shock after learning of the impending closure of historic department store Boswells.

Directors of the family-run store which opened in 1738 decided on Monday to consult property consultants with a view to selling the building and it is almost certain to close in 2020 although no specific date has been given.

Director Jonathan Pearson said trading could not continue as the store was no longer profitable and 70 staff were given the news at a meeting yesterday.

Shoppers visiting Boswells today said they were saddened to hear of closure.

Oxford Mail:

June Mack, 86, from north Oxford, said: “I think this is a tragedy for the city - Boswells is the go-to shop for everything.

“I moved here in 2012 and I have been coming here ever since - I get off the bus and go straight to Boswells - there’s so much under one roof and I will be sorry to see bit go.”

READ AGAIN: Boswells set to close next year

Another shopper said: “This is a shock and its very sad - technology does not help - high streets will be dead in 10 years’ time.”

Oxford Mail:

It is not yet known if a new retail outlet will replace Boswells or if the space will be used for a different purpose.

Trish Hedges, 80, from Summertown, said it was ‘awful news’.

She added: “The staff are always so friendly and I have bought all sorts of useful things over the years - duvets and suitcases.”

Oxford Mail:

Boswells leases part of the site from the city council and the council has pledged to work with the owners to try to find the best outcome for the city.

At the same time the future of the Debenhams store opposite remains in doubt after the company last year announced that it would be closing 50 stores.

Oxford Mail:

The Magdalen Street branch is not yet on a closures list unlike the Marriotts Walk branch in Witney.

READ AGAIN: Your memories of Boswells - plus pictured

There are however, some positive signs on the high street including Jesus College making good progress in Cornmarket on a £36m scheme to build a new student flats and shops block.

Some readers were upset to hear the news but not surprised.

Oxford Prof wrote: “Sadly, Oxford is rapidly becoming a city of chain stores. I’ll miss Boswells, a store full of charm with helpful and enthusiastic staff.”

Treader70 added: “Shop at your local independent shops.”

Oxford Mail:

And Michael100 said: “It’s absolutely the right sentiment but it would take an unprecedented effort to save Boswells - the very concept of a department store is a little archaic in modern times.

"Why go to a shop with sells a little of everything but not much of anything, when you can order exactly what you want to your door, or pick it up from a local supermarket - let alone a local department store which is inevitably hobbled by a much smaller supply chain?"

READ MORE: Debenhams' city store still faces uncertain future in 2020

Pamela Rae-Walsh posted on the Facebook Nostalgic Oxford page: “Dear Boswells - today you announced your closure, and I think with it you announced the closure of a part of my soul.

“Boswells was an icon to many generations and it will be greatly missed.”