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2013 'tough for bricks and mortar'

The next 12 months could see more suffering for bricks and mortar retailers, with specialists in books, news and stationery high on the list, according to new research.

Business recovery firm Begbies Traynor has measured corporate distress among UK businesses and found 140 retailers facing what they describe as "critical" financial issues.

Meanwhile more than 13,700 businesses have admitted to facing "significant" financial distress in the last quarter of 2012 following difficult trading conditions in the run-up to Christmas.

Begbies Traynor said that the retailers reporting the highest increases in significant distress are specialists in books, news and stationery (an 85% rise on last year). Pharmacists and independent off-licences are also high on the list.

Julie Palmer, Partner at Begbies Traynor, blamed part of the reason on "showrooming", where customers look at items in store before buying online. She said: "Though the performance of national retailers is well documented, it represents just the tip of the iceberg with thousands of smaller and specialist retailers struggling to stay afloat in today's Austerity Britain.

"While book sales usually peak in the run up to Christmas, the move by consumers to use traditional book retailers simply for window shopping before purchasing online at discount prices has seriously impacted this sector, which has already suffered considerably from the growing popularity of e-book readers."