Thousands of shops are closing across Britain as record numbers of customers buy on the internet.
A total of 1,772 stores disappeared from the UK’s busiest town centres last year, a report reveals – meaning almost five closed every day.
Retailer Evans Cycles last night reportedly became the latest firm to seek a rescue.
A string of retailers have recently gone bust or are facing an uncertain future. More than 50,000 retail jobs have already been lost this year (File photo)
Sky News reported that the business is looking for a buyer who can take charge and inject cash to stave off its collapse.
The figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) highlight the plight faced by retailers as foreign internet rivals such as Amazon take their business.
An unprecedented 18.2p of every pound forked out by shoppers is now spent online.
The figures sparked fresh calls from campaigners for the Government to help.
Professor Joshua Bamfield, of the Centre for Retail Research, said: ‘Average profits are half what they were five years ago … ordinary shops are facing crippling bills and high taxes, but so far it’s not clear that the Government is taking this seriously.’
A string of retailers have recently gone bust or are facing an uncertain future. More than 50,000 retail jobs have already been lost this year.
This is likely because in 2008, just 4.9 per cent of shopping was done online, but last August the figure was a record 18.2 per cent.
Department stores have this year been the most high-profile casualties of the High Street crunch, with 18.4 per cent of consumer spending in their category now done on the internet.
Empty shops for sale on Scunthorpe High Street, Lincolnshire (File photo)
Marks & Spencer recently announced it was shutting 100 stores, while House of Fraser had to be rescued by tycoon Mike Ashley after going bust.
Last week middle-class staple John lewis revealed its profits had slumped by 99 per cent in the half-year to July.
In its report the ONS referred to a study by accountant PwC showing 1,772 stores vanished from Britain’s 500 biggest town centres last year.
The Mail has been calling for an overhaul of business rates, as well as a fair tax on internet firms.
Mike Cherry, of the Federation of Small Businesses, said: ‘With spiralling business rates, ever-increasing rents, reduced access to cash and expensive town centre parking clobbering small firms, something needs to be done.
‘The unfair and regressive business rates system needs a complete overhaul.’
James Daunt, chief executive of bookseller Waterstones, said: ‘Rates are clearly contributing to the hollowing out of the High Street and shopping centres, and the march of online retailers are also part of that.
‘The urgency of the need for something to be done is increasing, and the damage to shopping districts is increasing.’
A Treasury spokesman said: ‘We’ve introduced more than £10billion of business rate support, so many businesses pay no rates at all.’
He said an expert panel would advise on a plan to revive the High Street.