News Topic: AI Special - The State of the Highstreet

By Rhiannon Cooper, Membership and Communications Coordinator - 14th September 2023

This week at PARN we are focussing on AI in preparation of our Research Roundtable on the 21st September.


A free to attend virtual event where you can join in the discussion. Taking this further, if you want to be instrumental in shaping the next in depth research project, and the direction it heads in, you can become part of the consortium too. Please email Robert Pitts (by clicking here) to have a chat if this is of interest to your organisation. Alternatively, please email PARN General Enquiries with any questions or comments regarding the event.


Below is the second piece that featured in this weeks Sector News.


Version 1

In 2023, British shops continue to navigate a complex and evolving landscape that poses several challenges, potentially leading to the distressing situation of administration. 

First and foremost, the reverberations of the COVID-19 pandemic still cast a long shadow. While many businesses have shown remarkable resilience, some retailers have been left grappling with decreased footfall and changing shopping patterns. 

Moreover, the relentless rise of e-commerce giants and the shift towards online shopping remain formidable obstacles for traditional brick-and-mortar shops.  

In this era of economic uncertainty, businesses also face the challenge of navigating supply chain disruptions. Rising costs, coupled with delays in production and shipping, have placed additional pressure on already thin profit margins. 

Business rates in the UK continue to be a point of contention. The need for reform in this area is pressing, as high rates can erode profitability and discourage investment. 

Changing consumer preferences are impacting shops' fortunes. Shoppers increasingly prioritize experiences over material possessions.

Lastly, the regulatory landscape remains in flux, with evolving laws and requirements around environmental sustainability, data protection, and labour practices. Staying compliant can be costly. 

In this challenging environment, British shops that thrive are those that proactively adapt to changing circumstances. 


Version 2

Another well-known name is set to disappear from our highstreets, joining the ranks of Woolworths, Debenhams and many others.  As if the cost-of-living crisis wasn’t enough, more bad news dominates the country this week as turmoil for Wilkos continues; confirmed job losses, store closures and the rollercoaster ride of rescue bids falling at the last hurdle.  

There may well be a plethora of reasons that have led to the retailer being the latest victim in the series of high-street disappearances, but there is no denying that this could be in part due to the long-term impact of Covid19. 

The retail sector has been undeniably altered, and whilst some stores seem to be thriving (Sainsburys reporting a 3% increase in sales), plenty are struggling to bounce back and regain that vital footfall.  

Shoppers seem to continue to favour the allure of ‘add to cart’ rather than pushing a trolley with an annoying, dodgy wheel around a busy supermarket. Of course, the reality is that online retailers can offer an unrivalled convenience, ease and almost unbeatable prices that keep us all returning. 

The world has changed drastically since the pandemic, with lockdowns and restrictions forcing us to change the way we live, the way we shop, how we consume products. Ultimately, these changes may have played a significant part of Wilkos fall into administration. 

With the latest rescue bid from HMV falling through, unfortunately it does now seem that Wilkos fate is sealed.