Footfall slumped on the high street in December as shoppers made fewer festive trips and spent online in greater numbers.

Footfall in December was 2.4% lower than the previous year, although up on the 2.9% fall in November and marginally above the three-month average of a 2.7% fall, according to the BRC/Springboard Footfall Monitor.

High streets suffered the greatest fall, down 3.7%, and on a three-month basis recorded a drop in footfall of 3.8%, which was the worst drop since August 2012. 

Footfall in out-of-town locations and shopping centres fell 1.2% and 1.8% respectively on a three-month basis.

However, all regions and countries with the exception of Wales, which was down 3.8%, the South West, down 3.4%, and Northern Ireland, down 8.7%, reported footfall above the UK average of a 2.4% fall.

BRC director general Helen Dickinson said: “These figures highlight how the rapid evolution of multichannel is changing the face of shopping, particularly at Christmas. 

“Rather than making multiple trips to the shops over the festive period, many of us planned ahead for our gift-buying and took advantage of retailers’ investment in services like click-and-collect so that they could cover off their festive spending at their convenience.

“The timing of Christmas was also a major factor behind peaks and troughs in shopper numbers during December – with the big day falling on a Wednesday many people held off on finalising their festive spending in the last few days.”

The footfall figures back up BRC retail sales figures released last week which showed online sales saved non-food categories as store sales struggled.

Springboard retail insights director Diane Wehrle said: ‘’The drop in footfall was double that of December 2012 but, unlike last year, high streets bore the brunt with an annual decline of more than double that in shopping centres. 

“The combination of the emphasis by retailers to drive online sales and the discounting introduced by retailers early on in the month meant that shoppers delayed visits to retail destinations until as late as possible which adversely affected footfall early on in the month.”