Village shopkeepers should focus on improving stores rather than fighting post office closures, according to the Rural Shops Alliance.

It was "inevitable" that post offices earmarked for closure as part of government plans to close 2,500 loss-making post offices by 2009 would shut, said CEO Ken Parsons, because the branches earmarked for closure had been selected "in a very methodical and professional manner, allowing few opportunities for protesters to prove them wrong".

He pointed to the example of Kent, where last month the Post Office revealed that, despite high-profile opposition, 56 of the county's 58 branches earmarked for closure would shut and a further two branches would replace the two granted a reprieve.

Retailers' time would be better spent laying down plans on how their shops could survive without a post office counter by improving their offer and attracting new customers. "Many of the post offices to be closed are in a shop and it is inevitable that over the next year many village shops will close as a result," he said. "Many of these stores, with the right support, can be made viable even without the post office income.

"Local efforts would be better directed at making sure this happens rather than fight against inevitable closures, where even if you succeed in saving one office, another is condemned to replace it on the hit list."