With big brand names like Wilko having disappeared from high streets across the UK and Body Shop closing branches, we visited Ilford's town centre to see it has to offer. 

On our visit on February 29, we discovered a large number of stores sat empty or permanently closed, and even more had their shutters down despite the time of day. 

Ilford town centre was relatively busy at around 2.30pm, but many stores on the high street outside the Ilford Exchange Centre appeared to be getting little to no custom. 

Ilford Recorder: The Wilko store is permanently closedThe Wilko store is permanently closed (Image: Olivia Carter)There were only two market traders in Ilford High Road, one selling fresh produce and another selling flowers.  

Within an hour of being in Ilford, we counted at least 11 shops that were empty or permanently closed. 

Cranbrook Road has three empty retail units and three closed shops. 

These shops included Zee & Co - a clothing retailer, and PRC Direct - an electrical retailer selling televisions and appliances.

Ilford Recorder: Zee & Co is just one of the shops that is permanently closedZee & Co is just one of the shops that is permanently closed (Image: Olivia Carter)

According to Google, Zee & Co and PRC Direct are both permanently closed. 

There are also several units that remain closed, not appearing to have been open for some time.

One of these units lies between Superdrug and Mallard Jewellers & Pawnbrokers and was a Lidl back in 2016. 

It appears to have remained disused since 2017, with a sign stating: "If you are reading this it is too late."

Another two empty retail units on the market in Cranbrook Road were last used in 2018, one a takeaway called the China Grill, and the other a unisex hair salon called Hair Force 1. 

Keen to hear what local shoppers had to say, we spoke with a number of people to see what they would want to replace the empty units.

We asked Muzaffar, a dad of two, who said. "For myself, personally, I shop here. If I’m getting stuff for my kids, I’m most likely going out to Lakeside and stuff like that. 

Ilford Recorder: Several units were boarded upSeveral units were boarded up (Image: Olivia Carter)"Just to get them their uniform, it is hard to get uniform here and it's only because they get sold out a lot more quicker here.

"Then again, in Lakeside you’ve got more options. Here we have options, but we don’t have the right options, if that makes sense.

"There’s all these small little things that could help parents who are local who don’t have the means to sort of drive out everywhere or whatever, it would make it convenient for them.

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"So play centres and stuff like that, something more entertaining for the younger kids because that might just keep them off the streets as well."

High Road is also losing two stores, one of which is the Factory Outlet, which takes up a considerable amount of room on the high street and was operating its "Last week closing down sale". 

Ilford Recorder: This large store is set to close in coming daysThis large store is set to close in coming days (Image: Olivia Carter)Clements Road has lost two stores, including a local business called Le Bistro, which appears to have sat closed for at least three years. 

We asked shopper Pat what she would want to see on the high street. She said: "More shops filled up, and markets... all the old markets are going.

"I come from the East End, so Petticoat Lane, that’s – I’m sorry to say this – for all the posh people, the upmarket people, and Roman Road market that’s even going down the pan. 

Ilford Recorder: Le Bistro appeared popular before it closed downLe Bistro appeared popular before it closed down (Image: Olivia Carter)"I mean Barking market, that’s not too bad, Romford’s not too bad but we want a decent one here.

"I mean Ilford’s changed. I’ve been here since November and it’s really changed down here. I can’t believe it – I walk down the market and I looked and thought my God, that’s not there, that’s not there, that shop's not there. But hopefully, we’ll get  the markets back. That’s what we want."