Footfall in out-of-town locations like retail parks rose 1.5 per cent year-on-year in January due to strong consumer confidence.
However, the figures from BRC/Springboard showed that overall footfall in January was 1.2 per cent lower than it was one year ago.
Shopping centres reported the largest decline, falling 2.8 per cent, while High Streets experienced a 1.6 per cent decline in footfall.
The national town centre vacancy rate in the UK was 10.4 per cent in January. Five regions in England reported footfall above the UK average – East (1.2 per cent), South East (one per cent), Greater London (-0.7 per cent), West Midlands (-0.7 per cent) and North & Yorkshire (-0.9 per cent).
Wales reported the largest decline in its footfall rate, down 4.6 per cent in January. Scotland reported its first decline in footfall since June 2014, down three per cent. Northern Ireland experienced a decline in footfall of 2.4 per cent.
Helen Dickinson, British Retail Consortium’s director general, said: “It has been heartening to see that footfall is up 1.5 per cent on January last year for out-of-town retail destinations. This reflects strong consumer confidence – more of us are happier to splash out on big ticket items, particularly furniture, which we usually travel out of town to view and buy."
The news comes after online sales of non-food products in the UK grew 11.7 per cent in January versus a year earlier, when it had risen by 19.2 per cent over the previous year.
“January is traditionally strong for online sales and this year was no exception," added Dickinson. "This has undoubtedly impacted on footfall for high streets and shopping centres and is further evidence of the impact of our changing shopping habits.
“Rising numbers of vacant shop units are still a cause for concern. We have welcomed the Government’s pledge to review business rates on our recommendation however in order to make a real difference the review will need to be wide in scope and seek radical solutions.
"Spreading best practice – such as supporting pop up shops, increasing digital connectivity and focusing on general town centre improvement – is crucial if we are to drive down a vacancy rate that remains stubbornly above 10 per cent.”