Falling demand and spiralling business rates could force almost 20,000 stores to close by the end of next year

It is predicted store closures will increase 30% from 7,233 last year to 9,500 this year, according to estimates from the Centre for Retail Research.

The research group forecasts an additional 10,200 stores will shut next year.

Centre for Retail Research director Professor Joshua Bamfield said: “The retail industry is now in crisis, caused by slack demand and escalating business rates.

“The government must act now to protect the range of large and small shops by freezing rates as the very minimum. If not, then thousands of jobs and stores are forced to close.”

The bleak outlook comes amid fears Toys R Us is close to administration, while Maplin is locked in talks to find a buyer.

Bamford predicts that 2,000 of this year’s store closures will be a result of administrations, while the remaining 7,500 are expected to be due to downsizing store estates.

Commercial real estate advisory firm Altus Group believes 55,467 retail premises were hit by business rate rises of more than 3% for 2018/19.

The analysis by Altus shows 2,211 large shops are facing average business rate rises of £35,363, which will total £78.2m

Some 37 large shops, which are over 1,850 sq m, will face average business rates rises of £156,385.

Alex Probyn, president of UK business rates at Altus, said: “The past few months have seen a stream of collapses across both the retail and hospitality sectors with many others teetering on the brink or considering large-scale closures.

“Historically, the spring is when Chancellors have made key fiscal decisions so it’s not too late for a freeze in inflationary rises to help cushion the blow for those in transition amidst challenging trading conditions.”