A SUPERMARKET giants is to close one of its Southampton stores.

Sainsbury’s has confirmed that its Bitterne West store which sells homeware, clothing, electronics and other non-food items, and has parking on its flat roof, will shut in May.

Its food store in the nearby precinct will stay open.

A Sainsbury’s spokesperson said: “We can confirm we are proposing to close our Bitterne West store in May and colleagues will be offered the opportunity to redeploy to one of a number of stores nearby.

“We are not renewing the lease.

“Customers can continue to shop at our Bitterne store, as well as a number of others nearby.”

Sainsbury’s took over the store from Morrisons which ran it for a short period after buying out Safeway.

The news comes in the week that the supermarket chain revealed its sales dropped over the festive quarter.

Bosses said that general merchandise trading was hit by consumer caution, as they held off from heavy discounting.

Grocery sales rose 0.4% in the 15 weeks leading to January 5, but this was offset by a 2.3% drop in general merchandise, and a 0.2% decline in clothing.

The store is in the Peartree ward, and Conservative Councillor for the ward, Alex Houghton, told the Echo: “I think this news, although perhaps not surprising, will be met with disappointment by many residents.

“When Sainsbury’s West End Road first opened, it was a shame to lose the choice offered by a competitor.

“However, the store has worked well providing a range of goods that would not normally be available in a district shopping area the size of Bitterne.

“This is clearly an ideal food premises, easily accessible to local residents with plenty of parking.

“Unfortunately, retail premises of this size are becoming increasingly difficult to rent with most of the supermarkets scaling back their operations.

“If a food shop is not feasible, then this site may appeal to a company like TKMaxx.

“For the continued success of Bitterne, it will be important to secure an established retailer to act as a draw for shoppers.”

John Gannaway, owner of Gannaway’s Farm Shop and Florist, Bitterne, said: “If the parking was to go it would be a big loss.

“We need something different to bring more people.

“For my sake I hope it’s not Aldi as they do everything and it would affect my business.”

Jean Williams, a Bitterne resident said: “I know a lot of people that go there and buy clothes so there is a need for it.”