Planning applications for new shops have fallen for the ninth year in a row, showing how high streets continue to struggle, new research shows.
A study by lending firm Lendy found there were just over 6,000 applications in England last year, compared with 13,500 in 2008.
The figures highlight the shift from high streets to the internet, although Brexit uncertainties could be forcing retailers to put store openings on hold, said the report.
More than 100 retail businesses went insolvent in 2017 in another sign of the challenges facing the retail sector, said Lendy.
Liam Brooke, co-founder of Lendy, said: "Investors in shops and shopping centres had been used to rents only ever going up, safe in the knowledge that any vacancies could be filled by one of a number of expansion-minded retailers.
"The recession and the boost to e-commerce from smartphones ended all that.
"Falling planning applications for new shops is a direct result of the pressures the retail industry is dealing with at the moment.
"Consumers can now get all the products they need on the internet, and as a result, retailers are seeing less need to invest in their high-street presence."