Footfall fell 3.7% year-on-year in the week ending December 1, according to the British Retail Consortium-Springboard Footfall Monitor.
However, the fall comes against tough comparatives as last year a public sector strike drove a sharp rise in footfall.
The number of shoppers out-of-town dropped off sharply, down 5.7% while shopping centre footfall dropped 5.5% and was down 2.1% on the high street.
However, on a week-on-week basis footfall jumped 7.3%.
BRC director general Stephen Robertson said: “Shopper numbers went up by 7.3% last suggesting that passing the ‘one month to go’ mark, coupled with payday, motivated many to start making some headway on their Christmas lists.
“But, footfall was down compared with the same week in 2011, indicating that some are holding back on festive shopping more than they did last year.”