The National Retail Federation expressed concern that thousands of retailers in the US could face financial difficulties after lender CIT Group filed for bankruptcy protection.

CIT lends to 2,000 companies that supply merchandise to more than 300,000 stores. Around 60% of the US apparel industry depends on CIT for financing.

CIT chief executive Jeffrey Peek sought to reassure businesses. He said: “The decision to proceed with our plan of reorganisation will allow CIT to continue to provide funding to our small business and middle-market customers, two sectors that remain vitally important to the US economy.”