UK retailers recorded the best footfall performance since December 2011.
Footfall grew 1.6% during January, rising 5.7% in out-of-town centres, and 2.4% at shopping centres, according to the BRC/Springboard Footfall and Vacancies Monitor.
High streets did not fare as well, falling 0.6% on the same month last year, but this was an improvement on the 3.7% decline recorded in December.
Between November 2013 and January 2014, footfall has declined 1.2% on average, falling 2.7% on high streets, rising 1.2% in out-of-town centres and flat at shopping centres.
"More shoppers were out and about in January, with a solid 1.6 per cent in overall footfall across the country,” said BRC director general Helen Dickinson.
“It’s good news for retailers and it helps to explain the rise in sales we reported earlier in the month, demonstrating that UK shoppers were enthusiastically checking out the promotions available during the sales season.”
However, she said that the number of vacant shop units across the country remains high, at 11% across the UK. Vacancies are highest in Northern Ireland with 18%, Wales with 16.4%, while Scotland recorded an 11.1% town centre vacancy rate.
In England, Greater London recorded the lowest vacancy rate at 6.4%, West Midlands has a 12% vacancy rate, while the South East, South West, East Midlands, East and the North recorded vacancy rates of 12%, 9.7%, 13.9% 10.9%, 10% and 11.8% respectively.
”However, it is encouraging to see that it’s marginally down at 11%. Empty shops hurt local economies, and there still a need to reduce the costs of operating property by reforming the business rates system.”