Store numbers fell for the first time in three years in the second quarter.
The change reflects ferocious trading conditions and a lower rate of shop openings on the country’s struggling high streets.
According to the British Retail Consortium (BRC) Bond Pearce Employment Monitor, the number of stores fell 0.5% year on year.
It is a “significant” move away from consistent annual store growth.
BRC director-general Stephen Robertson said the continued expansion of supermarkets has masked “the potential of a much sharper decline”.
“Without them, total shop numbers would have fallen further,” he added.
Despite the decline in store numbers, retail employment rose by 1.8% – the equivalent of 12,648 more full-time jobs – driven entirely by food retailers.
The Jubilee celebrations and preparation for the Olympics are expected to have driven the seventh consecutive month of employment growth.
Across non-food retailing, total hours worked fell.
However, 83% of retailers plan to keep their staffing levels unchanged, against 58% last year.
The number of retailers indicating they will reduce staffing levels plunged to 4%, compared with 25% last year.
Bond Pearce head of retail employment Christina Tolvas- Vincent said the Government’s efforts to revitalise struggling high streets were “encouraging”.