Consumers are more content to save their money and pay off their debts than shop, new figures suggest.

The figures from SPSL’s Retail Traffic Index, found that the index rose by just 0.3 points month-on-month in May but on a year-on-year basis fell by 0.5%.

The weekly index also found that May was the worst month since 2000 for retail traffic numbers in London and the south east in absolute terms and were down 5.2% year-on-year.

Dr Tim Denison, director of knowledge management at SPSL, said that comparing the figures with data from the banking sector showed that “for the first time in recent years, consumers are electing to pay back some of their outstanding credit card debt rather than go out shopping and add to it.”

Figures released earlier this week by the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) found that only 29% of retailers expected better sales volumes in June compared with 34% expecting lower sales. The balance of -5 was the lowest since August 1992.

Kevin Hawkins, director general of the British Retail Consortium, said that the data highlighted a worrying decline in retail sales and the number of consumers visiting stores.

“Retailers are clearly facing an increasingly difficult set of trading circumstances, which are showing no immediate sign of abating,” he added.