Page last updated at 12:50 GMT, Sunday, 21 December 2008

Ten chains 'face closure' in 2009

Shoppers in Bluewater shopping centre
An unusual number of retailers have been discounting before Christmas

More than 10 national or regional retail chains risk going bust next month, insolvency experts are warning.

The warning comes from Nick Hood, a partner at Begbies Traynor.

"Not a lot of them are profitable because of the discounting at a time when they would normally generate all their profits for the year," he said.

It comes as research from accountants PricewaterhouseCoopers suggests that 82% of retailers are discounting their merchandise this weekend.

The figures are compiled from London's Oxford Street, where many of the country's top retailers have stores.

One month ago, only 52% of them were cutting prices.

Vulnerable in January

"The problem facing the management of retail chains is whether they can find funding to restock in January, pay their VAT bills and survive through until Christmas starts again next October," Mr Hood told the BBC.

The danger facing them is that banks and suppliers that might have been prepared to support retailers during Christmas trading, may be unwilling to do so afterwards.

Retailers are vulnerable in January because they generally have more cash and less stock than at any other time of the year, so if creditors are going to force them into administration it is the best time to do so.

It has already been a tough few months for well-known retailers, with MFI already having closed down and Woolworths due to shut its shops in January.



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