Retailers should look to close around four stores per year even when sales are healthy, former Asda CEO told Retail Week delegates. “In healthy times retailers don’t close stores they accumulate the walking dead,” he said.

However he said that closing stores is essential to ensure that the business is trading efficiently as it can. He urged retailers to focus on the basics of retailing during tough times just as they would when times are good – be that inspiring people, driving down costs or having a coherent marketing strategy.

“Remember we had it pretty good for 15 years,” added Norman. “For years people were spending more than they were saving. A huge amount of growth was based on consumer credit and that can’t repeat itself.”

He warned that times are tougher now than they were even during the recession. “There will be more unemployment, interest rates could increase. The sun’s not going to shine tomorrow. We are where we are. People will have to trade on the new landscape and it will be tough.”