Two new reports have revealed just how bleak the prospects are for high street retailers in the UK as they catalogue a record number of store closures and job losses.

According to figures compiled for The Sunday Telegraph by the Local Data Company, a specialist retail market research firm, 18,355 stores closed down in 2018, an all-time high.

There were 13,676 new shop ventures last year, but they were not enough to make up the difference, meaning there was a net loss of 4,679 retail outlets in 2018, up by more than 1,600 on 2017.

In addition, around 700 high street banks shut down in response to growing competition from challenger banks and the increasing consumer preference for online banking.

High-profile retail casualties included the Maplin electronic goods chain, discount store Poundworld and Toys R Us, but several other major retail brands, such as Mothercare and Carpetright, also axed scores of outlets from their estates.

With store closures come job losses and a second study has calculated that nearly 19,000 high street jobs have been lost or put at risk since as recently as Christmas.

Consultancy firm Altus told the Press Association that 18,722 roles have been made redundant or threatened since 25th December, the total breaking down as 14,377 lost jobs with a further 4,345 at risk. That equates to 400 retail job losses each day.

Robert Hayton, head of UK business rates at Altus, warned that the sector faces further challenges this year because of Brexit and called on the government to help by freezing planned increases to business rates.

“It remains tough for high street businesses right now whilst Brexit uncertainty is also hurting both manufacturers and the services industries,” he said.

“Next month’s Spring Statement shouldn’t just be an update on the UK’s economic outlook but a meaningful opportunity to deliver a stimulus to all sectors by freezing the planned rate rises.”

Sourced from Telegraph, Press Association; additional content by WARC staff