Welsh high streets are on the verge of extinction, a retail expert has warned.

Chris Parry, a senior lecturer of economics at Cardiff Metropolitan University, said that the Welsh high street situation was at “tipping point”. He likened the plight of high streets to than of an endangered animal. “It’s rather like the Siberian tiger,” he said. “It’s on the cusp of extinction and without taking action, they will just disappear. They can’t survive unaided.”

Parry added that more bespoke shops which focus on service and quality were needed to turn the high street situation around.

His warning comes after a recent BRC/Springboard Footfall and Vacancies Monitor revealed that Wales has a retail vacancy rate 17.9%, with only Northern Ireland having a higher rate (18.1%).

The Local Data Company also recently revealed that towns such as Llanelli, Swansea and Newport have some of the highest vacancy rates in the country.

Local Data Company director Matthew Hopkinson said that struggling high streets needed to give shoppers a reason to stay there. “The dwell time in a large urban shopping centre is three to four hours and high streets need to emulate that,” he said. “It needs to be a place where people want to go out.”