The news that the intu centre has lost another major department store in John Lewis - with intu itself in administration - is a heavy blow for the town.

Yesterday’s announcement came less than a month after it emerged that the flagship Debenhams at the other end of the shopping centre would not be reopening.

Coronavirus was not the only cause. The company said the Watford store was already “financially challenged” - all this happened even though it was paying no rent on the town centre premises.

The internet has changed the way we shop, and the Covid-19 pandemic has only hastened the inevitable.

Many of us are asking what the future holds for town centres. The days of big department stores seem to be drawing to an end - though many will hope M&S clings on.

Some say we will see smaller ‘niche’ stores selling products or experiences you cannot buy online. This may include cinemas and bowling alleys that fled to out of town sites years ago, or climbing walls and family leisure venues.

There is also the restaurant sector, though that must first recover from the losses of lockdown and the reduced seating levels forced by social distancing.

Others predict housing may return to the town centre. Could part of the intu centre be converted for housing? Unlike many new housing developments, there might at least be plenty of parking.

For the moment we can only try to help those who have lost their jobs, and do our bit to support those businesses that remain as we all try to rebuild for the future.