High street footfall dropped 4% in December, marking the biggest decline in shopper numbers since November 2014.
The 4% drop was worse than the October to December average decline of 2.9% and last month’s decline of 1%.
Figures from the British Retail Consortium (BRC) and Springboard showed that average footfall across all types of location dropped by 2.2%, against the average of -1.6% for the October to December quarter. This was the ninth consecutive month of decline.
Retail parks were the only location to see positive growth in the Christmas month, with December footfall up 2.1% and the October to December average coming in at 2.3%.
Shopping centre footfall decline was stable at -2%, matching the performance for the quarter.
The only region of the UK to report a rise compared with the same period in 2014 was Scotland, though even this increase was marginal at 0.2%. Some of the sharpest declines were in the West Midlands (-3.4%), the North (-3.5%) and Wales (-2.9%).
BRC chief executive Helen Dickinson said: “Shopper footfall shrivelled once again last month and at a faster rate than compared with the three-month average. Retailers are having to revamp their businesses in order to respond to the profound changes in the way we are all shopping.
“This trading environment should also be considered with the impact of the industry’s regulatory burden. BRC analysis shows that the combined cost of policy announcements since the general election adds up to approximately £14bn over the next five years.
“The industry will continue to make the case to the Government, which has extended its review of business rates to early 2016, to properly look at rebalancing this tax away from property intensive industries in order to ensure that the introduction of the living wage does not have unintended consequences on our local communities and jobs.”