Retailer Wilko has revealed plans to close 15 stores this year, placing hundreds of jobs at risk.
The firm said the stores affected will close as leases end and favourable terms cannot be agreed, adding it will not affect its new openings or stores relocation programme.
The GMB union, which warned that the decision threatened more than 300 roles, described the decision as “another nail in the High Street’s coffin”.
It made the comment as figures from Springboard, which measures footfall across UK shopping destinations, showed a 6% decline in the last week, illustrating the impact of guidance advising people to work from home.
Planned Wilko closures include stores in Shipley, Bournemouth and Stockton next month, Scunthorpe in March, Grantham and Redditch in May, Rotherham, Skegness and Sutton Coldfield in June, Llanelli in August, Merthyr Tydfil in September and Cleethorpes in October.
The privately-owned home and garden retailer said 11 of the 15 stores have an alternative Wilko within five miles.
The company’s chief executive, Jerome Saint-Marc, could not rule out the prospect of jobs being lost.
He said: “Our history is steeped in serving our customers and communities going back to 1930 but there’s no denying the way people shop with us and where they want to shop with us is changing.
“As a business we’re evolving and this includes working with landlords for more favourable terms, as well as looking at locations and store formats.
“We’ll continue to pull together to make our business better to secure the future of over 16,000 team members.
“We’ll be doing everything we can to support our affected team members who will be offered any available positions in nearby stores.
“We apologise to those communities where stores are closing but will continue to offer them everything they need in nearby stores or via wilko.com.”
The announcement was made as retailers expect to face a squeeze this year from a rise in living costs, led by household energy bills, that are forecast to knock non-essential spending by consumers.
The GMB demanded firms were given some help to ride out the crisis.
Roger Jenkins, national officer for the union, responded: “These closures are devastating for Wilko workers and the communities who use them.
“It’s yet another nail in the high street’s coffin and GMB calls on councils and landlords to review commercial leases and offer lower rents.
“Empty high streets and shopping centres are in no one’s interest and but with 400 shops a week closing, this is inevitable, unless the costs of premises can be reduced.”