The retail sector is "certain" to see further collapses and large swaths of stores closed this year, following a sharp jump in administrations in 2012.
Deloitte, the accountancy firm, blamed the continued squeeze on household finances and the inexorable shift of spending to the internet for its gloomy forecast, predicting more chains would fold in the first quarter of this year. It said 194 retailers called in administrators last year, a 6 per cent jump on 2011 and an 18 per cent leap on the previous year.
Lee Manning, the restructuring services partner at Deloitte, said: "Constrained household budgets and the structural challenges facing the sector mean it is certain we will see further distress next year. Christmas trading appears to have been reasonable, though not spectacular and not enough to prevent insolvencies in the first quarter of 2013."
While swaths of the outdoor group Blacks Leisure, the video games chain Game Group and the card company Clinton Cards emerged out of administration under different owners last year, the electricals retailer Comet and the gift specialist Past Times disappeared from the high street.
Mr Manning said: "Too many retailers have too many stores and 2013 is likely to be marked by further closure programmes."