I’m surprised you’re surprised! Balham already has so many food shops. Those concerned with price will go to Sainsburys across the road. For those concerned with quality and wanting anything other than ready meals they’ll head to Waitrose a few doors up for a much bigger selection, parking etc. Those worried about the origin of their food will go practically next door to the organic supermarket. The ONLY advantage M&S Balham has as far as I can see is that due to it’s square footage it is open later in the evening and on Sunday evenings. But even here it’s competing with local “corner” shops (no-one does a big shop at 9pm on Sunday, more likely a pint of milk for monday’s breakfast and a bar of galaxy…), and crucially with itself – the other M&S Simply Food shop a 10min or less walk up the road at Clapham South. Being right next to the tube I think the Clapham South shop must have the edge in terms of takings – though again it is competing with Tescos, a Sainsburys express (also open late), and corner shops.
You say footfall in Balham is up, but in your next post about the 99p shop say rightly that people will be cutting down luxury spending in the recession. M&S is right at the top of the supermarket tree – no one is going to “cut down to M&S” (maybe a few who shop at Harrod’s food hall!). It must have been a no-brainer for M&S to close the Balham shop with another so close. There is already far less choice for lower income families in Balham when it comes to food & other shopping so I’m not particularly sorry to see M&S go. I’m also not sorry to see Woolworths replaced by a 99p shop!