One retail analyst has suggested the drop is partly thanks to a vicious cycle, where stores are forced to focus on their online efforts – but neglect shop fronts as a result.
The British Retail Consortium (BRC) released figures showing that shopper numbers had fallen by 1.2 percent in December, compared to the same time in 2011.
Shopping centres reported the greatest fall with a 2.8 percent decline, followed by out-of-town retailers, with a one percent fall, while high street locations saw footfall stumble by 0.5 percent.
The BRC said that the decline for the month as a whole came despite a rise of 7.5 percent in shopper numbers in the immediate week before Christmas.
The figures coincided with data released by the Office for National Statistics last week, which found that, although UK retail sales grew 0.3 percent in December, this figure was the lowest rise on record since 1998.
Patrick O’Brien, a retail analyst at Verdict, said there are a number of factors at play.
“Some shoppers stay away by online shopping, and this has let to retail chains investing less in their stores which in turn has made them less attractive creating a vicious circle,” he said, speaking with ChannelEye. “As a result, some high streets are looking very shabby indeed, and shoppers are tending to make one big trip to destination shopping centres such as Westfield Statford instead of several trips to the high street.”