ARGOS has confirmed its Basildon town centre store will close permanently sparking concerns online shopping has “massacred our high streets”.

The shop, which has been part of the Westgate Shopping Centre for more than 20 years, is the latest in a long line of shops to close, including Debenhams and Marks and Spencer.

Paddy Keeble, from Basildon, worries the town centre will consist of nothing more than banks and discount shops in the near future.

It comes after bosses announced their plans to open 150 more Argos stores in Sainsbury’s and add up to 200 Argos collection points by March 2024.

As a result, bosses will close around 420 branches.

Mr Keeble, 26, said: “It’s not really a surprise due to the pandemic. It has meant many haven’t been able to go out, and high streets all over the country are struggling where they just haven’t had the footfall.

“Online shopping on sites like Amazon means you can also get what you need next day, so many people are ordering bits on there instead.

“What we need are things like restaurants, bars, facilities to actually draw people into the town and give them a reason to visit.”

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Kerry Smith, deputy leader of Basildon Council, hopes the regeneration of the town centre, including building an arena at Westgate Shopping Centre, will help.

He said: “Online shopping has massacred retail shops like Argos, and all you can do at our town centre is go to the pound shop, get a vaccine or go to your bank.

“We’ve also lost British Home Stores, Marks and Spencers, big names are going and the pandemic has sped up the issue.

“Basildon used to be the place to shop in south Essex, but that title has long gone when we want to be back in competition with Lakeside.

“This is exactly why we’re trying to save the town centre by renewing it with the master plan, making it a place of entertainment, somewhere people go to have a nice time and give retailers a reason to stay.”

An Argos spokesperson said, “Our Argos store at Westgate Shopping Centre in Basildon has now closed and colleagues were offered opportunities to redeploy to alternative roles within Sainsbury’s. Customers can continue to shop with us at our nearby stores, including our East Mayne Sainsbury’s.”