Festive shoppers are being urged to make the most of Hexham’s high street with the closure of another high-profile outlet feared.

The Tui travel agent, on Fore Street, is understood to be among 160 of the company’s stores to be axed nationwide.

While Tui has not responded to requests from the Courant for official confirmation, the Hexham store was listed on the firm’s website as permanently closed.

It looks set to be the third victim of high street closures in recent weeks.

There has already been a great deal of public concern over the loss of Edinburgh Woollen Mill, in Hexham Market Place, and Argos, on Fore Street.

Both shops were immensely popular for decades, while many residents said Argos was previously key to their Christmas shopping plans.

Hexham town councillor Derek Kennedy, who also represents Hexham West on Northumberland County Council, urged people to support the town centre over the Christmas period.

“A lot of people will be doing internet shopping,” he said. “But the town centre needs the support of local people. Your support is crucial to the future of businesses.”

Coun. Kennedy said the loss of Tui is the sign of a Covid-related trend – but not only in Hexham.

He explained: “Covid is decimating the high street across the country. Tui is the latest to walk away from our town, and I am sure that once the pandemic is over, high streets across Britain will look very different.

“Therefore, I would appeal to people to have a think when planning their Christmas shopping. Instead of buying a book or something else online, why not pick it up the next time you’re in Hexham. Non-essential shops will be re-opening once the lockdown is over, and they need our support more than ever. We just need to remember to think about social distancing and other Covid safety measures.”