Out-of-town retail destinations have borne the brunt of the petrol price rises, suffering a 5.8 per cent fall in visitors last month compared with the same period last year.

The highest drops have occurred in the East, Southwest and Wales, as well as Scotland and Yorkshire – the areas with the largest distances to travel to major shopping locations.

Experian’s National Retail Footfall Index also found that there was a 1.5 per cent fall in shoppers to town centres last month, compared with the same period last year.

“The reduction in visits to out-of-town centres is having a significant impact on retail sales, because these visits have a much better conversion to sales ratio and generate much higher value purchases for retailers,” said Experian director of retail consultancy Jonathan de Mello.

“People generally drive to out-of-town destinations with a specific large purchase in mind and there is far less browsing than is the case in town centres.”

Experian’s report also found internet traffic has increased 6.5 per cent compared with last year. “As visits to out-of-town retail destinations decline, there is evidence that many more people are staying at home to shop online,” said Hitwise research director Robin Goad. “UK Internet traffic to retail web sites has increased by 6.5 per cent compared with last year.”

Retail business failures are also on the rise, according to Experian. There were 282 non-food retail business failures in the last three months compared with 226 failures in the same period last year, a rise of almost 25 per cent.

The past 12 months saw a total of 454 non-food retail failures, compared with 393 the previous year, a rise of 15.5 per cent.