West Bromwich has one of the worst performing shopping centres in the UK, according to a damning report released today.
Traditional high streets across the Black Country are described as "obsolete", as shoppers desert them.
Customers are moving to big city centres or the internet, forcing shop landlords to slash rents.
According to experts at property consultants Colliers, prime retail rents in West Bromwich dropped by 28.6 per cent to £50 per sq ft in 2010.
In top-performing Birmingham city centre landlords are charging an average £139.60 per sqft. Latest figures show that more than 10 per cent of shops are empty in High Street and traders in the town said the recession has hit hard.
Nick Round, Colliers' Birmingham-based national head of shopping centre leasing, said: "West Bromwich is one of the worst performing locations in the UK. The drops in retail rents there have been staggering."
He said the retail sector is going through a period of "massive turbulence". He added: "Outside the city centre secondary locations are struggling. The major brands no longer want a presence here because the foot-fall simply isn't good enough."
Bosses at Sandwell Council are hoping the new £200 million Tesco supermarket development will revitalise West Bromwich town centre.
But today traders backed the report, including Moss Evans, aged 53, who runs greengrocer M Evans Ltd in the indoor market. He said: "I have seen it go from being a bustling town in the 1970s to a run-down tired shopping centre. All the big quality shops have left."
Jill Simcox, manager of French Connection baguette shop in High Street, put the decline down to office workers leaving, adding: "The recession has definitely had a massive impact."