One in 10 high street shops will be empty by the end of next month as the retail collapse gathers pace, experts said yesterday.

The prediction comes despite a Boxing Day sales bonanza driven by unprecedented discounts and a last minute Christmas Eve surge for gifts.

The retail analysts Experian said the number of shoppers at the Dec 26 sales was up 12.5% on last year. The chain store John Lewis said the final four shopping days in the run-up to Christmas saw sales rise 2.5 per cent on last year.

However, despite high street discounts of up to 90%, five retail chains have ceased trading in the past two weeks, and up to 15 more are rumoured to be on the brink of closure.

Small business leaders said the increase in boarded-up shops, coupled with an expected cull of bank and building society branches after this year’s mergers, would make life even harder for the surviving traders.

Clinton Cards, Allied Carpets, JJB Sports and Land of Leather are among the stores struggling with mounting debts and falling sales.

Sunday Telegraph