The demise of big-name high street chains is not a "crisis", Business Secretary Vince Cable insisted as he firmly ruled out any state bailout for the retail sector.
Mr Cable rejected Labour claims of Government "inertia" in the face of a series of business failures that have seen shops close and tens of thousands lose their jobs.
Blockbuster and HMV last week became the latest familiar names to call in the administrators, after Jessops and Comet closed their doors to shoppers over recent weeks.
Collapses were the inevitable result of the economic crisis and an "extraordinary" rise in online shopping in the UK, behind only Denmark and Finland, Mr Cable said.
There was only a "modest" role to be played by ministers, such as the Mary Portas-led effort to revive town centres, he told MPs on the business, innovation and skills select committee.
Asked what the Government could do to shore up the sector financially, he told MPs: "Very little. I don't think we would feel there was a strong argument for giving financial support on any scale."
He went on: "I think in general - and I do not want to minimise the impact on people losing their jobs which is obviously horrific - I don't think I would describe it as a crisis.
"What's happening in the retail sector is partly lack of demand - there isn't a great deal of economic growth - but the main reason we've had the spate of companies going into administration is because of technological change and changes in consumer purchasing habits.
"Online shopping is increasing in this country at an extraordinarily rapid rate. These are things Government should not be in the business of trying to stop.
"The Government's role in all this is not to be a bystander - we do think we have a role. But I don't think it's to say that this particular brand, which consumers for whatever reason have decided not to spend money on, should be preserved for the nation."