Retail administrations soared by more than a quarter in the final three months of last year, laying bare how the brutal consumer slowdown is hitting the high street's weakest players, according to a survey by Deloitte.
The accountancy firm expects another jump in insolvencies at beleaguered chains before the end of March as shoppers rein in their spending after a Christmas splurge.
Deloitte said 42 retailers in England and Wales called in administrators in the final quarter of 2011, a 27 per cent rise on the 33 failures in the previous three months. Lee Manning, the restructuring services partner at Deloitte, said: "We are likely to see a further spike in retail administrations in the first quarter of 2012 as retailers buckle under the pressure of VAT payments falling due, impending rent payments, the increased popularity of shopping online and the traditional decline in footfall as the attractive year-end sale offers come to an end."
The research comes as the sector is braced for the insolvencies of the lingerie retailer La Senza and the retro-themed gift chain Past Times before the end of tomorrow after both filed notices of intent to appoint administrators before Christmas.