The Retail Futures 2018 report from the Centre for Retail Research (CRR) has predicted that that one in five high street stores will disappear by 2018, resulting in 60,000 shop closures and 316,000 job losses.

Findings show that store vacancies across the UK have increased by 161% since the onset of the recession in 2008, reaching 14.1% today. The report predicts this figure could rise to 24% by 2018 if no preventative action is taken.

Welsh high streets will see the biggest changes, with 29% of stores set to disappear by 2018, followed by the North West with 28% and the East Midlands with 27%.

The highest number of actual store closures will be in the North East where 25% of shops are expected to shut. The least affected areas will be London, where just 9% of stores will close, followed by the South East with 13%.

Retail Futures 2018 predicts that the issue will be more prominent in the non-food retail sector with 25% of stores shutting by 2018 as supermarkets take more of their sales and an increasing number of people shop online.

The hardest hit stores will be in the pharmacy and health and beauty sector with more than one in three set to disappear by 2018. Stores selling music, books, cards, stationery and gifts are also to become “far less prominent” within the next five years.

The report suggests that the increase in online shopping and and comparison sites will be a major factor in these potential shop closures. With more consumers choosing to browse online and compare prices, retailers need to consider how much of a high street presence is necessary.

Read more on the report on the Centre for Retail Research website.

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