The research, carried out by the British Retail Consortium (BRC), revealed that footfall in July was 0.6% lower overall than a year ago, but up on the 0.7% fall in June.
Despite the disappointing numbers for the high street, the national town centre vacancy rate in the UK was 10.1%, a decrease from April’s rate of 10.6%.
Helen Dickinson, BRC director general, said: “These results are a mixed bag, with footfall easing downwards in July, but with the shop vacancy rate recording its best performance since our records began in July 2011.
“Footfall dipped 0.6% in July compared to the same period last year, albeit less pronounced than in June. Out-of-town destinations performed well, off the back of strong sales of furniture, home accessories and outdoor and garden items, while high streets and shopping malls dipped, reflecting weaker sales of goods such as beauty products.
“The reduction in the shop vacancy rate for the third successive quarter is heartening, with the vacancy rate at its lowest level since our records began in July 2011. However it is still the case that every tenth shop remains unoccupied. This reinforces the need for a fundamental overhaul of commercial property taxes, which would increase retailers’ confidence about investing in new or existing retail premises and thus help rejuvenate our high streets.”
Three regions in England reported footfall above the UK average: the South West (0.2%), North & Yorkshire (-0.1%) and the East Midlands (-0.3%).
Northern Ireland reported the largest decline in its footfall rate, down 5.2% in July, and Scotland reported the highest level of regional footfall, up 4.4%.
Wales experienced a decline in footfall of 1.2% on the previous year.