Almost 150,000 retail jobs were lost in 2019 as the industry battled high costs and changing shopping habits.

Centre for Retail Research director Professor Joshua Bamfield said the loss of employment showed that “retail was in crisis” as profitability was eroded by the combination of costs and a shift to online shopping.

He said: “These problems are felt by most businesses operating from physical stores, in high streets or shopping malls. The low growth in consumer spending since 2015 has meant that the growth in online sales has come at the expense of the high street.”

The research showed that 38,103 jobs were lost when retailers collapsed into administration and another26 ,462 went as a result of CVAs when loss-making stores were shut.

The total number of retail jobs lost over the year was up by more than a fifth on the 117,425 that disappeared in 2018.

Bamfield identified business rates as “a problem facing the whole retail sector – giant companies as well as minnows” and said: “They all need help if the high street is to not only survive but thrive.”

The Centre for Retail Research expects that without Government intervention on behalf of large retailers, job losses could rise to 171,000 in 2020.