A campaign to save Marks and Spencer’s outlet store in Aldershot has picked up the pace after petitioners held a 'shop-in' at the store on Saturday.

Following the announcement of the proposed closure of the store last Monday, which would end the brand’s near 100-year link to the town, campaigners gathered outside the High Street retailer in Union Street to drum up signatures and encourage shoppers to buy something at the store.

As of Saturday lunchtime, 2,237 people had signed the petition set up by Aldershot resident and founder of the Historic Aldershot Military Town (HAMT) Facebook group, Keith Bean.

He said: “There is a real buzz about the place, everybody is stopping to talk to us about M&S.

“We need M&S, it's a part of the community.

“This is where elderly people get their food from, people are saying 'where am I going to shop now?'

“M&S is a key store in Aldershot, with the regeneration it could help bring other stores to the high street.

“I say to the big bosses at M&S, give it three years. The regeneration is going to see new houses being built and where are people going to shop if it's not here?

“We have been busy putting up petitions in shops and cafe's and we have been getting people to go into the shop and buy things- even if it's just a pair of socks to show their support.

“If you walk in the store now, you will see that's it's bustling with people.

“So many people are stopping to sign the petition, everyone in Aldershot is talking about it.

“People have travelled to even show their support, a lady has come from Wokingham for the shop-in.

“It's been here 80 years, even if we loose the fight we're still winning as it has brought Aldershot together as a community.”

The retailer said it was stripping back its Outlet operation because of improvements in the way it is managing excess stock.

MP for Aldershot , Sir Gerald Howarth, with leader of Rushmoor Borough Council, Councillor Peter Moyle, are expected to meet with representatives from M&S on Tuesday.

Some petition signatories have claimed the loss of household names like M&S, with Aldershot potentially at a crossroads as it seeks a vital regeneration scheme, could be the final nail in the coffin for the vitality of the town centre.

The proposed closure has put 45 jobs at risk, although M&S has insisted all current members of staff would be offered alternative roles at neighbouring branches, were the closure to go ahead.

Campaigner Kerry- Ann Wade said: “I'm an employee at the store where I have worked for 13 years.

“So many people want to help so thank you to everyone who has shown their support in the town.”

Another employee at the store and campaigner, who did not wish to be named, said: “For me, it's the inconvenience of having to travel if I get offered an alternate role at another M&S branch.”

A number of signs supporting the 'Save our M&S' campaign were put up in prominent places around the town following a mystery £500 donation.

Speaking about the petition, Keith Bean said: “We are hopeful to get another 500 signatures from Saturday. Then all we can do is wait and see what happens when the petition is presented.”

Get Hampshire has approached M&S for a comment.