Britain’s high street stores face a dire future as experts warn the latest casualties mark the beginning of a retailing apocalypse.
Up to 200,000 stores jobs are expected to be axed by 2020 according to The Centre for Retail Research – on top of 150,000 that have gone since 2016.
And it gloomily predicts 9,500 shops will close this year and 10,200 in 2019.
The shock prediction came after Maplin and Toys R Us went bust today, leaving around 5,700 workers facing redundancy.
And there was more bad news as Prezzo was said to be looking to close up to 100 of its restaurants.
All three chains are owned by private equity firms.
Fashion house New Look could shut at least 60 stores, House of Fraser has asked shop landlords for rent reduction and Mothercare and Debenhams are struggling.
Up to 40 Homebase DIY stores could close, with 2,000 jobs at risk.
GlobalData retail analyst Eleanor Parr said: “Today is Black Wednesday for high street retailers.”
Eleven have already gone into administration this year alone thanks to poor sales, soaring business rates and the boom in cheaper online goods. Professor Joshua Bamfield of the Centre for Retail Research called on the Government to step in and help.
He warned that one in 10 of all shops across the UK could shut over the next two years.
He said: “The retail industry is 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 at the very minimum. If not, then thousands of jobs and stores are forced to close.”
Shadow Business Secretary Rebecca Long-Bailey added: “The Government must urgently address the retail sector problems.”
The collapse of Toys R Us, with the possible loss of 3,200 jobs, comes just two months after the chain was saved in a last-ditch deal before Christmas.
It was floored by weak trading and debts, thought to include a £15million VAT bill that was due on Tuesday.
Joint administrator Moorfields said: “We will be conducting an orderly wind-down of the store portfolio over the coming weeks.
“All stores remain open until further notice and stock will be subject to clearance and special promotions. We’re encouraging customers to redeem gift cards and vouchers as soon as possible.
“We will make every effort to secure a buyer for all or part of the business.” Members of the firm’s defined benefit pension scheme could have retirement pots cut.