As many as one in five shops could be vacant by the time the recession is over, according to a report by PricewaterhouseCoopers.
The impact of the consumer slowdown could result in a sharp rise in shops closing their doors which could leave as many as 20% of shop units "void", according to PwC.
PwC estimates that 3,600 shops could be seeking new tenants if 10% of national retailers get into difficulty over the next year.
A raft of fashion retailers including Stead & Simpson, Faith and MK One, have already gone into administration this year. However all of these chains were rescued, though often with slimmed down shop portfolios.