UK lobby group the Forum of Private Business has called for a government inquiry into what it calls the supermarkets’ monopoly of the retail market.

The move by the FPB, which said the British high street has lost 20,000 independent shops since 1997 at a rate of 50 a week, comes as Tesco plans to open its first non-food store in Manchester this month.

“The supermarkets’ – and in particular Tesco’s – dominance of retail trade is a catastrophe for the high street right here, right now in virtually every town in Britain,” said the FPB’s chief executive Nick Goulding.

“The government needs to wake up and see the crisis that is affecting small businesses. The move by Tesco to launch its first non-food store will immediately imperil independent clothes, hardware, home furnishing and electrical shops. To protect these business’s livelihoods there needs to be another Competition Commission inquiry,” he said, adding that high street shops are unable to compete with the multi-million pound advertising budget of the supermarkets.

Tesco currently has a 30.5% share of the UK grocery market, and £1 in every £8 spent in British shops is spent in Tesco.