Boxing Day footfall was up 12.5 per cent this year, compared to Boxing Day last year, according to Experian.

Experian, which published the figures, attributed the increase to more shopping centres being open on Boxing Day this year, and the very heavy discounts being offered by many retailers.

The strong Boxing Day followed a busier final few days in the run up to Christmas compared to the muted first three weeks of December.

However, BRC director general Stephen Robertson warned that this wasn't going to be enough to save 2008 from being a poor Christmas. "Despite a last minute surge, it’s becoming clear that overall this has been a poor Christmas for retailers, as struggling customers cut back and traded down," he said.