Shoppers want more from Honiton

But not any shop will do. ‘Bring back Marks and Spencer,’ they say.

Are they satisfied with the current range of goods and services on offer, or is there something missing?

For many, the departure of Marks and Spencer has left a gaping hole in the marketplace - although some shoppers highlighted the importance of a balance between big chains and independent stores.

So, is Honiton in a catch 22 situation?

Is it admired for its character and wealth of small, independent shops while, at the same time, being by-passed by those who prefer the big name retailers?

Emma Retter, 27, said: “I think the High Street needs a few more things.

“The Marks and Spencer that was here covered all the general ages, from young to old, with clothes, underwear and stuff like that.

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“We just need a selection – bring back Marks and Spencer.

“Just a few high street names to bring a few more people – a clothes shop would help.

“Not all shops seem to be selling the right things and you need high street names to bring it to you.”

Her sister, Hayley, 25, added: “You don’t want to go too far and have less independent shops. You have to keep the balance right.”

Pensioner Don Steward said: “The shops are lovely – it is a lovely shopping place. There are no shops boarded up.

“They are individual and this is a place not full of estate agents.

You go to some places and find all supermarkets or boarded up shops.”

Gina McGarry, 52, from Honiton, said: “I don’t think there should be more high street chains.

“I don’t find myself missing the national chains. I like all the independent shops; you get something a bit different.

“With regard to the places that are empty, it would be nice to see them being used again.

“I just like going in all the little shops and you have got a balance with the bakers and butchers, which I think is really important.

“There is everything you need, apart from a fishmongers.

“There is not a very nice selection any more, as there are lots of charity shops, and then you have got lots of little cafes. You need the lure of the shops.”

Joanna O’Donnell, 52, from Exeter, said: “It is all on one street and there is the ease of parking and the mix of independent stores – what I miss is the fish shop, which closed. I think they are going in the right direction and, maybe, they just can’t support national chains as there are not enough of us - like when Marks and Spencer closed.”

Imogen Selway, 27, from Honiton, said: “I am happy with the way it is. I think there are plenty of national stores, really.

“Obviously, there are bits I can’t get so I may go to Exeter.

“I don’t think there should be more national chains, but Honiton could do with some more things for younger people.”

Brian Cole, 77, from Sidmouth, said: “Another high street chain would be good for clothes - that is what my wife tells me.

“It’s very compact. Honiton has all the shops you need, but it is clothes shopping that is lacking. You need the bigger stores, maybe.

“It would be nice to see Marks and Spencer come back.”

Janet Cheetham, 53, said: “I think it is nice. It is full of individual shops, which you wouldn’t see elsewhere and it still has some character.

“It isn’t like any other high street in the UK. You go to any of the big cities and you get the big high street chains; it’s not what you come here for.

“I think if it became all big stores it would spoil it, although you need the large shops to bring in more customers. It’s a balance of these things.”