Footfall in October fell by 2% year on year in the 11th consecutive month of decline.
The national town centre vacancy rate was 9.6%, an increase on October 2017 when it was 9.3%, according to the BRC-Springboard Footfall and Vacancies Monitor.
The BRC said that the footfall data reflected an “ongoing trend of declining footfall” but that there were also “signs that consumers are waiting for Black Friday and seasonal discounts before visiting shops”.
High street footfall was down 2.3%, and there have now been three months of consecutive weakening. However, Northern Ireland and Greater London bucked the trend to deliver increases of 4% and 0.2% respectively.
In the Southeast there was a “significant acceleration from 0.6% to 5%”.
Footfall in retail parks was down 0.2% after two months of growth.
The footfall decrease in shopping centres worsened to 3.3% from 2.5% in September in a 19th consecutive month of decline.
BRC chief executive Helen Dickinson said: “This trend is primarily driven by a move from in-store to online purchases. With retail becoming more digital, physical shopping locations are working to reinvent themselves as places people go for days out rather than just for day-to-day purchases.
“Nonetheless, the vacancy rate is at a 15-month high, with many brands disappearing from the high street, and many more struggling under the cumulative burden of public policy costs.
“The Government’s recent Budget missed the opportunity to halt the rising cost of business rates for firms employing the majority of the UK’s 3.1 million retail workers.
“With the rates multiplier now set to rise to over 50%, the Government should reflect on the impact it is having on our high streets and plan for a wholesale reform of our broken business rate system.”