Footfall in April slipped 0.1% against last year and down on a 1.8% rise in March despite sales getting a boost from the Easter holidays.
According to the British Retail Consortium (BRC) Springboard Footfall Vacancy Monitor high streets suffered the biggest fall, with visitors down 1.4% year-on-year and down from a 2.6% rise in March, while shopping centres experienced a 0.9% drop in footfall against last year.
But out-of-town locations performed well with a 4% rise against last year, which the Monitor said was due to consumers shopping at home and DIY retailers, which tend to be located on these sites, in preparation for the Easter weekend.
However the slip to footfall comes after the BRC KPMG Sales Monitor last week revealed UK retail like-for-like sales rebounded in the month and increased 4.2% in April boosted by Easter.
Springboard Retail Insights Director Diane Wehrle said: “The disparity in performance between urban and out of town locations is at least in part due to rising house prices which tends to make consumers more enthusiastic about investing in home products, the greatest choice of which is found in retail parks.”
Northern Ireland recorded the biggest regional footfall, up 12.8% year-on-year and footfall in Scotland was up 5.2% but shopper numbers in Wales fell 1.2% and in London fell 3.4%.
Additionally, the overall national town centre vacancy rate in the UK was 10.6% in April down from 11% in January.
BRC director general Helen Dickinson said: “The decline in the vacancy rate is heartening; however every tenth shop still remains unoccupied. This reinforces the need for an overhaul of the business rates system, which would increase retailers’ confidence about investing in property, create more jobs and help revive high streets.”