A third of high streets are "degenerating or failing" according to new research published by the Government.
By 2014 less than 40% of retail spending will be on the high street, according to the study, which also found that over the past decade out of town retail floorspace has increased by almost a third while in towns it has shrunk by 14%.
The findings were revealed alongside a Government-commissioned report aimed at revitalising high streets and shopping centres struggling to attract customers.
TV retail expert Mary Portas proposed a national market day and relaxation of rules to stem shop closures. She proposed new "town teams" to improve the management of high streets, more affordable car parking and removal of red tape.
"Our high streets are a really important part of pulling people together in a way that a supermarket or shopping mall, however convenient, entertaining and slick, can't."
Prime Minister David Cameron said the Government will review the report and respond next Spring.
Ms Portas said: "Our high streets can be lively, dynamic, exciting and social places that give a sense of belonging and trust to a community. Something which, as the recent riots clearly demonstrated, has been eroded and in some instances eradicated.
"I fundamentally believe that once we invest in and create social capital in the heart of our communities, the economic capital will follow.
"Those who see high streets purely in commercial terms need a reality check, because, without the engagement and collaboration of local people many high streets will die and retailers, landlords and local authorities alike will see their investment wasted.
"This review sets out what I think has led to the decline of our high streets, my vision of the future and the key things I believe we need to put in place to deliver that vision."