Shoppers will have no-one but themselves to blame if the island's stores are forced to close.

This is the stark 'use them or lose them' warning from retailers who say they aren't at all surprised by the massive retail sales slump.

Government figures show retail sales fell by 4.5 per cent in June - the fifth consecutive monthly decline.

The new retail figures, which were released yesterday by the Department of Statistics, show all types of stores - except food stores - recorded lower sales in the month.

The worst hit were clothing stores with a 20 per cent decline in June marking the seventh consecutive month of double-digit sales decline.

The finger is now being pointed at shoppers who opt to purchase goods online or overseas rather than in Bermuda.

Kristi Grayston, co-chair of the Chamber of Commerce's retail division, told people to "take a look in the mirror" to see who was to blame.

She suggested that if each person spent as little as an extra $70 a month in local stores it could "make a change."

Mrs. Grayston said: "The people are the only ones who can turn this around.

"If people want to have retail here, they have to sustain it, it's that simple. We are all in this together.

"People complain there's no selection in our stores, but they'll complain more when there are no stores.

"I'm not surprised but shocked by the continuous decline. People think retailers are fat cats sitting back and counting their cash but that's not the case - it's not an easy business."

Paula Clarke, chief executive officer of Gibbons Company, said there had been a steady decline in sales since September. She added: "People have to pay attention to what is happening on their doorstep. This island needs a vibrant shopping area to survive.

"People still have this perception that Bermuda stores are expensive but we actually work hard to offer good value for money.

"We offer high street fashion at the same price as the U.S. without sales tax."

Ms Clarke claims retail tends to be "100 per cent Bermudian" so if stores cut back or close, Bermudians will lose their jobs.

She said: "The lack of sales is impacting us all, it has a trickle down effect on the community."

Paul Dean, general ­manager at Marks and Spencer, said: "Business is certainly not as buoyant and we hope that changes.

"We cannot rely on the tourist trade, we depend on people buying locally."