Retail leaders and landlords have urged the government to cut business rates amid fears that the tax is ruining their recovery.
At least 21 business figures from retailers such as Moss Bros and The Entertainer have written in a letter to Chancellor Rishi Sunak that it is time to take action to avoid a disaster.
Sunak is expected to announce the delayed results of a review of the rates system in autumn.
“There are many views on precisely how the business rates system should be reformed, but on this we are all united: the current business rates system is broken and there must now be fundamental change,” the letter said.
“If there is no genuine reform of the business rates system, the occupation of commercial premises is going to become unaffordable to more businesses.
“There will be more bankruptcies of well-known retail brands, more retrenchment by retailers which do survive, more closures of hospitality venues, more boarded-up shops, fewer start-ups and whole shopping centres abandoned.
“Many communities are being hit hard, with thousands of jobs being lost each year.”
Retail signatories include Brian Brick of Moss Bros, Philip Bier of Flying Tiger Copenhagen, Gary Grant of The Entertainer and Richard Walker of Iceland.
The letter was also signed by executives from landlords including Capital and Regional, NewRiver Retail and the New West End Company, as well as trade bodies including the Bid Foundation and BRC.