FEWER people went shopping in December, a report has revealed.
But those who did spent more money, according to latest findings from the British Retail Consortium.
The BRC survey showed footfall – the number of people visiting stores – was down by 1.2% last month compared with December 2011.
The decrease follows a 0.4% improvement in November and hit shopping centres, out-of-town locations and high streets.
Shopping centres saw the greatest decline – a 2.8% drop – followed by out-of-town down 1.0% and high street locations down 0.5%.
Yorkshire and the north saw a 4.8% decline in footfall last month and a 5.4% decrease for the final quarter of 2012. Wales was hardest hit with an 11.5% decrease in footfall.
Increases in shopper numbers were reported for the West Midlands, Scotland and Greater London.
Helen Dickinson, BRC director general, said: “It wasn’t a bumper Christmas, but it wasn’t a disaster either.
“Our December retail sales figures showed very modest sales growth for the market as a whole.
“Although overall shopper numbers were slightly down on 2011, it appears that conversion rates were good – when people did get out to the shops they bought more per trip.
“The growing popularity of online retail also had an impact on shopper numbers, but it’s important to remember that online retail sales are only just over 10% of all retail spending and many people took advantage of the investment retailers have made in giving flexible delivery options. Click-online and collect-in-store came into its own.”
She added: “High streets have a particular appeal at Christmas. They had a smaller drop in footfall than shopping centres or out-of-town locations but, across the year as a whole, it’s a different story. At minus 3.3% high streets suffered the biggest drop-off in shopper numbers.
“Generally-speaking, weak spending power is keeping people away and compounding long-standing difficulties in many of our town centres. This month’s retail failures confirm the challenges are far from over.”