Listed retailers issued more profit warnings in the first six months of the year than the whole of 2010 and double the number of 2009.

The figures, from accountancy firm Ernst & Young, show the crisis gripping the high street. 26 profit warnings were issued in the first six months, from retailers including HMV, Dixons and Carpetright.

Ernst & Young partner Alan Hudson said: “The spending boost gained from the long run of spring bank holidays, the fair weather and the royal wedding can only provide a temporary fillip to retailers, many of which are burdened with debt, weakened by snow and under stress from years of tough trading.”

He said the retail sector’s woes are not dissimilar to 2008 when the financial crisis hit.