One in seven companies is at risk of collapse in the next three months, according to a survey by the Office for National Statistics.
The survey found that some 14% of British businesses said they have “low or no confidence” that they will survive the next 12 weeks.
The ONS also estimated that 9% of the workforce was on furlough leave during the two weeks to 1 November.
It comes during a month when the UK went back into a lighter version of March’s lockdown, but with growing uncertainty about restrictions in the rest of the pre-Christmas trading period.
Earlier on Thursday, the Confederation of British Industry called for at least seven days’ notice of any government plan for exiting lockdown.
The lobby group said firms will need time to activate supply chains and call in staff ahead of the expected reopening in England on 3 December.
The financial quarter leading up to Christmas is vital for retailers, who were already struggling to recover from the harsher lockdown earlier in the year.
Also on Thursday, the government said it had given banks guarantees on £65.48bn of lending to businesses hit by the pandemic.
The figure, as at 15 November, was up from the £61.93bn a month earlier.
Most of the lending (£42.18bn) was to small businesses, for which banks get a 100% government guarantee.
The coronavirus pandemic pushed Britain’s economy into the worst recession on record in the first half of the year.
Further local restrictions and the November shutdown are expected to see GDP shrink again in the fourth quarter.