Soaring business rates, spiralling wage bills and other rising retail costs are causing retailers to scale back investment plans, according to the ACS.

Figures for December last year to February 2017 show retailers invested £154m in their businesses – significantly less than the previous quarter’s record £299m number.

The average investment per store was just over £3,000, with 78% of retailers funding investments from their own cash reserves.

ACS chief executive James Lowman said: “While thousands of stores are making improvements to their businesses, there is hesitance to invest at a time when business rates bills are going up for many and the new rates of the national living wage have come in.”