THE shopping centre of Minehead could be 'devastated' as the recession claims more retail victims in 2009.
Insolvency experts have warned that more than 10 national or regional retail chains risk going bust during January alone - on top of those which have already gone into administration.
And locally, The Post has been told of up to five Minehead town centre outlets which could soon be lost - not including Woolworths, which will close on January 5.
The gloomy news comes on top of predictions that unemployment nationally will hit three million this year.
Nick Hood, a partner in Begbies Traynor, the UK’s leading business rescue, recovery, and restructuring specialist, said few retailers would have made profits during the Christmas trading period because of discounting.
The profits made at this time of year often helped retailers stay afloat for the rest of the year.
But Mr Hood said: “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.”
He said retailers now faced the danger that banks and suppliers which were prepared to support them over Christmas might no longer be willing to do so.
Retailers were also particularly vulnerable in January because they often had more cash and less stock than at any other time of the year, so it was a prime time for creditors to force them into administration.
Although The Post has names of local branches of retailers supposedly ‘at risk’, we have decided not to publish them.
Locally, Minehead Chamber of Commerce has urged West Somerset residents to shop locally and support traders.
Chamber spokesman Graham Sizer said every pound spent in local shops would circulate several times before the money was taken out of the area.