Consumers failed to hit the shops in greater numbers last month despite improved signs for the UK economy, an industry body said today.
The British Retail Consortium (BRC) said footfall was 0.9% lower than a year ago, with shopping centre locations the worst hit with a decline of 2.2%.
High street footfall declined 0.6% but out-of-town retail locations were flat as home products became the best performers in sales terms in August.
The BRC said looking at the figure for the quarter to the end of August was more encouraging, with a rise of 1.1% compared with the same three months a year earlier. It also pointed out that the monthly result may have been distorted by comparisons with the stay-at-home impact of the Olympics in August 2012.
And while there was a decline in footfall, those visiting retail locations spent more as figures from the BRC earlier this month revealed that the sector enjoyed its best month in sales value terms since March 2010.
BRC director general Helen Dickinson said the weaker footfall result needed to be assessed in tandem with the recent rosier economic news.
She added: "A small dip in one month shouldn't take the shine off the tentative signs of improving consumer confidence hinted at in recent times, and retailers are working hard to read these conditions so that they can continue to deliver for their customers."
The North & Yorkshire was the only region to report positive footfall growth in the month, with a rise of 0.1% on a year earlier. The biggest decline was the 2.7% fall seen in Wales, while the South West dropped 2.5% and the South East and West Midlands both saw footfall drop by 1.8%.