A study by the Centre for Retail Research (CRR) has revealed that the current growth in online shopping will affect High Street stores to the extent that one in five shops will have closed by 2018, equivalent to some 62,000 retail outlets ceasing to trade and 316,000 workers losing their jobs.
The CRR report, titled Retail Futures 2018, states that consumer spending have gone up by 12% since 2006, but operating costs for retailers have risen by 20%.
According to the CRR, the share of consumer spending in high street stores is predicted to fall by 40.2% this year, while online retail continues to grow and is expected to account for 21.5% of all retail sales by 2018.
The latest official figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) on retail spending showed retail sales volumes were less than expected in April this year, just 0.5% higher than the previous year as consumers increasingly turned to the Internet to do their shopping.
The costs of opening a High Street store and an online warehouse are compared in the report, with an estimated GBP10,000 per month needed to open a High Street store, while the costs of running a warehouse on the outskirts of a similar town is estimated to be between GBP650 and GBP1,800 per month.
CRR director Professor Joshua Bamfield, the author of the report, says that pharmacies and health and beauty stores would be the first retailers to close, followed by shops that specialise in music, books, cards, stationery and gifts, along with DIY stores.
In addition, the CRR reports that local shops are also expected to decrease by 26%, or 34,587 shops, by 2018 as customers migrate to online shopping, retail parks and town centre stores.
The report also recommends that an investment of GBP320m by the Government is necessary to revive problem town centres by turning empty shops into accommodation and creating leisure, entertainment and business facilities to attract more consumers.