The Mail today launches a campaign to save Britain's high streets – after a staggering 50,000 retail jobs were axed in the first half of this year.
The figures expose the bloodbath up and down the country as hundreds of stores – from major chains to small shops – shut their doors.
Business leaders, shopkeepers and MPs blame punitive business rates that cripple high streets and hand a huge advantage to internet giants.
Today chief executives of some of the country's biggest chains, along with politicians from all parties, demand reform as they warn that sky-high rates are stifling investment and driving long-established companies to the wall.
The Mail is launching a campaign to save Britain's high street after 50,000 retail jobs were axed
Last year shops closed at a rate of 16 every day. Figures compiled by the Press Association show that between January and June this year, 50,000 jobs were either lost or expected to go.
In recent months the trail of destruction has hit household names including House of Fraser – which has put 6,000 jobs under threat – and Poundworld, which plunged into administration endangering a further 5,100.
Toys R Us and Maplin collapsed, while chains such as Prezzo, Byron and Jamie's Italian shut restaurants and culled hundreds of jobs.
Meanwhile, the taxman is raking in more and more from business rates – with a total haul of £30.8 billion predicted this year, up from £29.6 billion last year.
The vast majority comes from major retailers in the heart of towns and cities, while online stores and out-of-town shopping centres pay much less in both rates and corporation tax.
Critics say high business rates which force firms to go bust are self-defeating, as they reduce tax revenues.
Marks & Spencer, which is closing more than 100 stores in the next four years with hundreds of jobs at risk, told the Mail that rising rates were partly to blame for its drastic plans.
Chief executive Steve Rowe said: 'Business rates are an unfair burden of taxation directly contributing to the challenges the high street is facing. The long-term effects of these charges are now a reality.
'Our Covent Garden store faced a rate rise of close to a half a million pounds in the year before it closed, an untenable position for any retailer.
Today chief executives of some of the country's biggest chains, along with politicians from all parties, demand reform as they warn that sky-high rates are stifling investment and driving long-established companies to the wall
'These challenges will continue until the system is reformed to create a level playing field between high street and online retailers.'
Tesco chief executive Dave Lewis said: 'UK retail is the most employment-dense sector of the economy, so constantly losing businesses in the way we are will have an economic impact.
'And so if they're not careful the Government risk taking too much out of business rates and then losing in the medium term.'
Labour MP Frank Field, chairman of the Commons work and pensions committee, said: 'The taxation of online retailers and firms which funnel their profits abroad should be changed