Shopworkers are becoming increasingly depressed and turning to alcohol as the threat of redundancy rises across the retail sector, the Retail Trust has found.

The industry charity, which runs a helpline for those worried about losing their jobs, said calls from concerned retail workers has soared 300 per cent in the past three months.

Alcohol abuse caused by rising debt and redundancy worries has also increased dramatically.

There have been an estimated 35,000 redundancies in the retail sector in the past three months following the collapse of retailers including Woolworths, Zavvi and Principles.

The Retail Trust is launching a programme called ReWork, which will provide around£1,000 of free employment assistance to those who have worked in the industry for at least two years and have been made redundant.

Retail Trust chief executive Nigel Rothband said: “Retail workers have been hit hard by the credit crunch, with calls to our helpline revealing the extent of the fallout of redundancy, with debt management now the number one stimulus for calls.”