The convenience store ­sector is in for a huge influx of potential new sites because of further turmoil in the pub industry.

Retail property experts Christie & Co said 4,000 pubs were expected to come on to the market over the next 18 months. The downturn meant pub companies were expected to ­offload sites to tackle debts and declining sales.

The ease of transferring pubs to alternative use meant supermarkets, regional mults and c-stores were filling the gap left by residential developers, Christie & Co said.

The Southern Co-operative has recently opened a new c-store in a former Portsmouth pub, while Tesco has already converted some sites. Costcutter and Bestway said last year they were ­targeting the pub market.

"We have found increasing numbers of pubs are being sold for c-stores. These are becoming more popular as retailers do not need planning permission to transfer the site," said Christie & Co head of retail Tony Evans. "They also come with car parking in a residential area."

The company recorded a 21% rise in deals on c-stores, forecourts, off-­licences, newsagents and pharmacies in the first six months of 2010 compared with the last six of 2009.