A quarter of the UK’s independent music stores have shut over the past year, a study has found.

The Entertainment Retailers Association (ERA) reported that there are now only about 300 such shops left, compared with 408 in 2007 and more than 1,000 a decade ago.

Indie music shops have fallen victim to the rise of digital downloads and the grocers’ presence in the market, as well as the economic downturn.

ERA director-general Kim Bayley told The Daily Telegraph that “anyone who believes in British music must fear for the future” of independent shops but said there were also some grounds for optimism. There are signs that indies are picking up sales as a result of the collapse of Woolworths and Zavvi.

Bayley said independent stores were irreplaceable. She said: “Independent record stores are an essential part of the UK’s unique music culture.

“They are at their best a heady mixture of unofficial youth club, cultural centre, recruitment agency for musicians and music education centre. They recommend new music and nurture new artists.”