Hundreds of UK retailers face the risk of going bust in the new year.

Banks are likely to support retailers until Christmas, followed by a glut of insolvencies in early 2009, according to corporate insolvency specialist Begbies Traynor.

The insolvency specialist has placed 323 UK retailers on its “critical watch” list. Retailers on the list have more than a 70 per cent chance of failing.

Begbies Traynor partner Mark Fry said: “Banks will be very reluctant to pull down any more retailers than they absolutely have to.

“No matter how poor a festive season they have, the banks' position will be better in early January, because at least some of that stock will have been turned into cash, which will have reduced the amount owed to the banks to what is normally the low point in the annual cycle.”

Despite this, he has forecast a “rash of retail failures” at the beginning of next year. In the past fortnight, fashion and homewares retailer Joy fell into administration, as well as homewares retailer Rosebys and fashion retailer Miss Sixty.