As many as 140 UK retailers are currently in "critical condition"

Business recovery firm Begbies Traynor estimates that 140 UK retailers are currently in a critical condition”.

The firm would not identify any of the 140 retailers on its critical watchlist”, but their inclusion means they have either a winding up petition or a county court judgement over 5,000.

The stats include a mixture of well-known brands and smaller retailers. This number has alarmingly climbed 35 per cent since before Christmas.

"Experiences teaches us that a high proportion [on the critical list] will fall into some sort of insolvency proceedings," Begbies Traynor partner Julie Palmer told The Guardian.

"Overall, the sectors that are most vulnerable include those affected by shoppers moving to online or digital formats, such as specialists in music, games, books, news and stationery along with the specialists that are most affected by the convenience and price-driven offering of the supermarkets, which includes chemists, health and beauty, and alcohol retailers."

Figures from RSM Tenon show that around 1,300 retailers became insolvent in 2012, up seven per cent year-on-year. Its head of restructuring Chris Ratten added: "We expect this year to be worse, as those who have managed to teeter on the edge for the past few years will feel the full effects of the reduction of discretionary spending, fierce competition and reducing cash reserves.

"We believe 12,679 retailers have a high risk of insolvency out of more than 100,000 retailers nationally."

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