The number of shopping trips made in the UK between May and July fell by 1% on the previous year as consumers continued to feel the pinch of the tough economic climate.
Latest figures released by the British Retail Consortium and Springboard revealed that falling shopper numbers were driven by a 1.9% fall in people visiting out of town complexes.
High streets saw the highest drop in footfall of 2.6% with Wales and the West Midlands the hardest hit. They experienced a respective decrease of -9.2% and -6.6%. Greater London (1.6%), the South West (0.4%) and Scotland (0.2%) were the only locations that saw shopper numbers rise.
Footfall rose in July but the one-month improvement was due to a combination of the summer sales and the start of the school holidays, the report suggested.
Other findings showed 11.2% of high street and shopping outlets were vacant at the end of May.
Diane Wehrle, Springboard research director described the drop in footfall as ‘very modest’ when compared with the previous three years.  She said: “Decline has been steadily softening throughout 2011. There has also been a shift in activity between different types of shopping areas. Traditionally retail parks and malls outperformed the high street due to ease of access and free parking. However, these areas are now experiencing similar challenges to town centres.”
Stephen Robertson, BRC director general said: “Fewer people are shopping because households are facing high inflation, low wage growth and uncertainty about future job prospects. But that’s slightly offset by hard-up customers spreading their spending over more but less costly shopping trips.
“For the quarter, the 1% drop in shopper numbers compared with this time last year is not great but is actually an improvement on the 1.3% fall over the twelve months before that.”