The number of retailers in “significant financial distress” has increased by 21% compared to the same period last year.

The stats from insolvency firm Begbies Traynor show 42,958 retail companies to be severely struggling, with 12,290 (28.6%) of these being food or drug retailers.

The overall trend mirrors concerns in the convenience sector. NFRN national president Linda Sood said newsagents could be "consigned to history" due to difficulties with core sectors. Data by the Local Data Company found there 266 fewer independent convenience stores than last year.

Despite the large numbers of food and drug retailers on the brink, the sector is still outperforming the general retail environment, with the number in financial distress rising at a slower rate of 11%.

However, the trend isn’t just unique to retail. Restaurants, bars, hotels, travel and leisure companies also reported being in a worse condition compared to this time last year.

Partner and retail expert at the firm Julie Palmer blamed poor weather, business rates, rising wages, falling consumer spending and fierce competition for the trading conditions.

But Palmer said hope may be on the way. “With inflation falling back, lower unemployment and real wage growth finally returning, we should hopefully see households start spending again as the weather improves,” she said.

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