THE retail trade yesterday suffered its first casualty of 2012 with confirmation that lingerie chain La Senza is to close down some of its 15 Irish stores.
The closures come as the chain revealed it is shutting down 88 branches across the UK and Ireland, including shops on Grafton Street in Dublin and in the Liffey Valley and Mahon Point shopping centres in Dublin and Cork.
It is not yet known how many jobs will be lost.
Other shops in Ireland that will close include two stores in Belfast and another one in Derry.
The closures come as Retail Excellence Ireland reiterated its warning that there would be a large number of failures in the sector this year.
The lobby group said shoppers were choosing function over fashion and clothes retailers were particularly hard hit because the recession meant fewer parties, which reduced footwear and fashion sales.
Retailers had a strong start to December but sales fell off midway through the month.
La Senza is pulling down the shutters on more than half of its 146 stores across the UK.
The US-owned company, which said on Christmas Eve that it was going into administration, made the announcement yesterday on its website.
The decision by administrators KPMG is sure to send a chill through the retail sector, which is bracing itself for further closures once the sales end this month and shops sell off inventory.
Administrators in control of shoe shop Barratts -- which also has stores here and in the UK -- have announced 1,610 job losses throughout the company and are looking for a buyer for the company's other 173 standalone stores.
UK bookmaker Stan James is even accepting bets on several well-known retailers going bust this year.
Poor sales in the run-up to Christmas have been the final nail in the coffin for struggling chains, such as the nostalgia gift retailer Past Times.
Troubled entertainment chain HMV warned before Christmas that tough trading conditions "cast significant doubt on the group's ability to continue as a going concern in the future".
Figures published last week showed that retail insolvencies accounted for 14pc of 1,638 insolvencies in Ireland last year.
Ken Fennell, a partner with Kavanagh Fennell which compiles the data, said the true failure rate was probably higher because no official statistics tracked the collapse of sole traders or partnerships.