British retailers face tens of millions of pounds in costs and losses following rioting, looting and arson across and beyond London, and the impact on smaller businesses could be terminal.
"It will amount to tens of millions of pounds in terms of damage to property, goods stolen, and of course lost business," said Richard Dodd, head of media at the British Retail Consortium.
The BRC, which represents about 90% of retailers, expressed concern over the impact on smaller operators who are already struggling to cope with dire economic conditions.
"Many retailers were under quite a lot of pressure anyway, particularly some of the smaller independent ones who haven't got big national resources to draw on, and undoubtedly in some cases it won't be viable for them to start up again."
Britain's biggest retailer Tesco said several stores in London and other cities had been affected overnight, but all except one store in Liverpool had re-opened this morning. "We will cooperate fully with the police in bringing these criminals to justice," the company said.
Grocer Sainsbury said 16 of its stores were impacted by serious incidents. "All of these stores have now reopened."
The Association of British Insurers also said it expected the rioting in London and other major British cities to cost insurers "tens of millions of pounds".