More than one in five of Britain's high street shops could close by 2018 as more customers turn to the internet for their shopping, a report suggests.

The study, carried out by the Centre for Retail Research, warned that 62,000 shops would fold in the next five years.

The UK independent retail analysis group estimated that around 316,000 workers would lose their jobs as a result and large areas of Britain's high streets would be turned into housing.

Online shopping is expected to surge over the next few years, accounting for 22% of retail spending by 2018 compared to 12.7% currently, the study suggested.

Professor Joshua Bamfield's report, Retail Futures 2018, says the first closures will be pharmacies and health and beauty stores, followed by those selling music, books, cards, stationery and gifts, as well as DIY outlets.

"The total number of UK retail stores will fall by 22% over the next five years from 281,930 to 220,000 in 2018. If no action is taken, store vacancy rates could almost double to 24%. Already this year, 16 major retailers have gone into administration operating 1,985 shops and employing 14,719 staff,'' Professor Bamfield said.

"By the end of 2018, research predicts that a further 164 companies will go bust, taking 22,600 stores and 140,000 employees with them,'' he added.

Wales and the North West are predicted to see the highest number of closures, with nearly one in three expected to go to the wall, while the South East is expected to see a 13% decrease in the number of shops by 2018.