With Wilko on brink of collapse - who will be the next high street casualty?

As yet another massive retailer announces it's on the brink of collapse, Jamie Jones asks - who's next

Watch more of our videos on Shots!
and live on Freeview channel 276
Visit Shots! now

It feels like a lifetime ago when the teenage version of myself was gainfully employed by high street giants including Arcadia Group and Next. And that young girl would never have believed it if someone told her the climax of in-person shopping would be just around the corner. Yet, here we are.

Another huge name in towns and cities across the country has just announced it is on the verge of collapse - this time, thrifty shoppers’ favourite, Wilko. With 12,000 jobs and 400 stores at risk, administrators have just 10 days to secure a deal.

News of retailers in trouble no longer comes as a surprise to the 40-something me - with so many much-loved brands having closed their doors for good in recent years, it’s no longer a question of ‘if’ any other stores will suffer the same fate but rather, ‘who will be next?’.

It was almost incomprehensible that instantly recognisable and trusted shops such as TopShop, Topman, Miss Selfridge, Dorothy Perkins, Wallis, and Burton would be absent from town centres in 2023, but the capitulation of Arcadia in the face of increasing online shopping means they are all no more. Of course TopShop, Topman and Miss Selfridge were in some way rescued by internet retailer ASOS but unsurprisingly, their goods are now only available via the click of a mouse.

Physical stores are dwindling and retailers’ belt-tightening means while some brands continue to trade, they are rethinking which stores remain viable. Marks & Spencer announced the closure of 67 of its larger branches, targeting ‘lower productivity stores’, while New Look revealed seven shops have closed their doors for good as a result of the changing retail landscape.

And it’s not just retailers shutting up shop - restaurants hit first by the pandemic and then by the ongoing cost of living crisis have also had to take stock. Pizza and pasta chain Prezzo closed 46 stores, faced with these challenging times.

As the move online continues, it comes as little surprise that banks, with a constant eye on the bottom line, have also been carrying out a mass cull of branches across the UK, with HSBC, Natwest, Barclays, TSB, Halifax and Lloyds all having announced swingeing cuts to their face-to-face operations.

So many shops, now fading into nostalgic memories, have left the high street - Woolworths was perhaps the last collapse that truly took the public by surprise back in 2015 and since then we’ve waved goodbye to many more familiar storefronts.

After the news Wilko is on the brink of collapse, Jamie Jones asks - who's next?After the news Wilko is on the brink of collapse, Jamie Jones asks - who's next?
After the news Wilko is on the brink of collapse, Jamie Jones asks - who's next?

Perhaps it’s a lack of creativity on the part of retail’s big hitters? Perhaps they just didn’t move swiftly enough as internet shopping first reared its convenient head? Or, perhaps there was never a workable solution to consumers’ mass movement to online shopping. Whatever, or whoever is to blame, the question remains - who’s next? Well, watch this space.