Footfall dropped across the sector in December, marking the 13th consecutive month of decline.

Customer numbers fell 2.6% last month, according to the latest data from the BRC and Springboard, although the decline slowed from the 3.5% slump recorded in December 2017.

It was also less than the 4.2% year-on-year decline predicted in early December, following plummeting shopper traffic on Black Friday.

Footfall at shopping centres fell at the steepest rate, sliding 3.9%, although the BRC said this was “broadly in line” with the 3.8% declines recorded in November 2018 and December 2017.

This was the 21st consecutive month of decline in shopping centre visitors.

High streets and retail parks both suffered 2.1% drops in footfall.

BRC chief executive Helen Dickinson said: “The December results conclude a difficult year for retailers, with footfall dropping by 2.6% over the year. This continued drop, now onto its 13th month, continues to put pressure on bricks-and-mortar stores up and down the country.

“It comes at a time when retail is in the midst of a transformation, investing in technology and the online offer, as well as offering more experiences in physical shops. This is evolving many high streets into a destination for wider services, as well as shopping.”

Diane Wehrle, Springboard’s marketing and insights director, said December’s drop in footfall was “undeniably strong evidence that retailers can no longer rely on Christmas trading to redeem revenue lost earlier in the year”.