A JOBS bloodbath threatened to engulf the high street yesterday as the spending squeeze caught more stores in its deadly grip.
As many as 10,000 jobs are under threat after Barratts Priceless Group, which employs 3,840 staff, crashed into receivership and Peacocks was rumoured to be shutting 200 stores, risking 2,500 jobs.
These blows came just 24 hours after Blacks Leisure put itself up for sale, casting a shadow over 3,500 jobs.
As workers reeled, one expert said: "For firms to be throwing in the towel barely a fortnight before Christmas shows how dire trade must be.
"It suggests we could see an horrific bloodbath once the January sales are over."
It is the second time in two years that Barratts has collapsed.
The Bradford-based shoe shop chain was forced to shut 220 stores in 2009 before the current owner Michael Ziff bought 160 from the administrators.
Yesterday the firm, which now has 191 shops and 371 concessions, revealed it had called in accountants Deloitte.
Daniel Butters, a partner at Deloitte, said Barratts would keep trading while they tried to find a buyer.
Difficult economic conditions coupled with mild weather have hit sales at the group, but Mr Butters insisted they were working with suppliers "to ensure the business has the best platform to secure a sale, preserve jobs and generate as much value as possible for creditors".
Meanwhile, rumours were circulating last night that cut-price fashion outlet Peacocks was toying with shutting one in five of its 1,000 stores.
The company, which also trades as Bonmarche, made £66million profit in the 12 months to March this year but trading is thought to have weakened since then.
Bosses revealed in October they were restructuring and looking to tackle their £240million debt.
A Peacocks spokesman said: "We continue to progress our re-restructuring discussions and plans, with no decisions taken at this point."
On Wednesday Blacks Leisure, which includes the Millets chain, went up for sale after failing to raise vital cash from existing backers.
Nick Bubb, a retail analyst at Arden Partners, said: "They were competing with the supermarkets and clothing retailers such as New Look and River Island.
"It's down to an overwhelming combination of competition and the economy."
Other high street outlets that have struggled this year include TJ Hughes, Jane Norman, Alexon, Habitat UK, Focus DIY and HomeForm, which owned Moben kitchens and Dolphin Bathrooms.
Thorntons, which is closing half its 360 stores losing up to 1,100 jobs, and Mothercare which announced plans to shut up to 110 stores after half-year year losses of £82million, are also suffering .
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