Britain has slumped to its longest double-dip recession in more than 50 years after shock figures revealed the economy shrank by a worse-than-expected 0.7% between April and June.
Gross domestic product (GDP) - a broad measure for the economy - fell for the third quarter in a row and by much more than the 0.2% expected by forecasters, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS).
The dire performance, which represented the biggest quarterly fall since the depths of the financial crisis in the first quarter of 2009, was hindered by an extra bank holiday for the Queen's Diamond Jubilee and the wettest April to June period on record.
The figure is the ONS's first estimate and may be revised in coming months, but it suggests the UK is mired in the longest double-dip recession since quarterly records began in 1955 and it is believed to be the longest since the Second World War.
The latest grim economic reading will heap more pressure on the Government and fuel criticism that Chancellor George Osborne's austerity measures are choking off the recovery. The UK's economy is 0.3% smaller than when the coalition came to power in the second quarter of 2010, the ONS figures showed.
However, the statistics body said the Diamond Jubilee celebrations and the weather played a significant part in the latest slump, although it said it was too early to put a figure on its impact.
Mr Osborne said: "We all know the country has deep-rooted economic problems and these disappointing figures confirm that. We're dealing with our debts at home and the debt crisis abroad. We've made progress over the last two years in cutting the deficit by 25% and businesses have created over 800,000 new jobs.
"But given what's happening in the world we need a relentless focus on the economy and recent announcements on infrastructure and lending show that's exactly what we're doing."
The pound fell against the euro as the data increased chances that the Bank of England will pump more emergency money into the economy or drop interest rates further.
Vicky Redwood, chief UK economist at Capital Economics, said there was a possibility that the GDP figures are underestimating the true strength of the economy but added that it would take "pretty hefty revisions" to make the recent performance look even half decent.
Mothercare has long been battling tough highstreet conditions and continues to struggle against competition from rival Kiddicare as well as supermarkets and websites. In an attempt to boost profits, the baby products retailer recently launched a new-look 30,000 square foot store in north London, including an area to test buggies and prams plus a Costa Coffee.</p>
Despite recruiting famous yummy mummy, Mylene Class, to front the opening, and launching Jools Oliver's Little Bird collection in stores last week, City pundits warn it could be a case of too little too late.</p>
- Clinton Cards
The greetings cards specialist became the latest highstreet casualty in May with 8,000 jobs on the line when it was forced it into administration. Its biggest supplier, American Greetings, then bought Clintons out of administration and put the retailer through a rebrand including a new logo and complete in-store revamps.</p>
Its contemporary format includes new fixtures and fittings and easier to navigate stores, and will be rolled out to all 400 UK stores at the cost of £16million. Bosses aim to bring the brand back to profit within two years.</p>
- Thomas Cook
Battling high debt levels and a downturn in the global travel sector, Thomas Cook was brought back from the brink by a £1.4bn refinancing packaging in May, giving it a further three years to repay its debts. Soon after, the firm recruited new chief executive Harriet Green, who faces the task of reviving the travel company which last year issued three profit warnings and was forced to take an emergency £200m loan.</p>
The troubled tour operator hit difficulty in 2011 when the unrest in the Middle East and North Africa affected its operations in Egypt and Tunisia. The position worsened due to a fall in overall bookings by cash-strapped UK consumers, as well as the company's high debt levels.</p>
- La Senza
Poor sales in the run up to Christmas was the final nail in the coffin for several struggling chains, including lingerie retailer La Senza, which went bust in January 2012 with 146 shops and 2,600 staff. Kuwaiti retailer Alshaya bought part of the business, which saved 60 shops and 1,000 staff.</p>
La Senza has been struggling in a similar way to other specialist shops such as Game and Mothercare, which have been hit by cut-price competition at supermarkets and have no alternative products to help shoulder losses.</p>
- Blacks Leisure
Stricken retailer Blacks Leisure, which employed 3,600 staff across 98 Blacks stores and 208 Millets stores, went into administration in Janurary 2012 after failing to find an outright buyer.</p>
Soon after its stores were bought by sportswear firm JD Sports in pre-pack deal - an insolvency procedure which sees a company being sold immediately after it has entered administration – which saw most of Blacks' £36 million of debt wiped out.</p>
Fashion chain Bonmarche, which was part of the Peacock Group, was sold in January when the group collapsed due to unsustainable debts, resulting in 1,400 job losses and 160 store closures. Private equity firm Sun European Partners bought 230 stores, which continue to trade with 2,400 staff.</p>
Administrators sounded the death knell for Woolworths in December 2008, leading to store closures that left 27,000 people out of work. Since its collapse former Woolworths stores have become a blight in many town centres and more than 100 of the large stores still lay vacant in January 2012.</p>
Loyal customers didn't have go without the family favourite store for long however as it reappeared online as Woolworths.co.uk in 2009, after Shop Direct Home Shopping bought out the Woolworths name.</p>
Peacocks collapsed under a £740 million net debt mountain in January 2012 in the biggest retail failure since Woolworths. Despite being sold out of administration to Edinburgh Woollen Mill in a deal that saved 380 stores and 6,000 jobs, administrators from KPMG were forced to close 224 stores with immediate effect. This lead to 3,350 redundancies from stores and Peacocks head office in Cardiff.</p>
The high street name continues trading as bosses work to stabilise the situation, yet a further blow was dealt this month with news that the firm's pension fund is in £15.8 million shortfall as a result of the collapse.</p>
Game buckled under its £85m debt pile in March 2012 and was placed into administration after being unable to pay a £21m rent bill. Administrator PwC immediately closed 277 shops, with the loss of 2,000 jobs. Soon after, investment firm, OpCapita bought 333 Game stores, saving more than 3,000 jobs.</p>
Game's demise followed a string of profit warnings and the failure of nervous suppliers, including leading names Electronic Arts and Nintendo, to go on providing the latest games, further damaging poor sales.</p>