Retail footfall in the UK fell by 16.8% in September from two years prior, according to new data from the British Retail Consortium (BRC) and Sensormatic IQ.
The figure covers the five weeks from 29 August to 2 October and shows a 1.2% increase from the previous month.
It is also above the three-month average decline of 20.5%.
During this period, footfall in shopping centres fell by 35.6%, while high street footfall declined by 22.6%.
BRC chief executive Helen Dickinson said: “While footfall at the start of September was strong, it slowed over the course of the month as increasing rainfall and ongoing fuel and supply issues convinced some consumers to stay home.
“The final week of September saw the worst total footfall levels since the last week of July this year, shortly after the last Covid restrictions were lifted, demonstrating the fragility of consumer confidence and how the economic recovery from Covid can be so easily undermined.
“Retail parks continue to perform better than other shopping destinations, with access to larger stores, parking and petrol stations.
“As we approach Christmas, it is imperative the government takes further action to resolve the driver shortage, which is increasing costs and creating delays throughout the supply chain.
“Retailers are trying to recruit and train thousands of new British drivers, but 5,000 visas are not enough to fill the gap in the short term.
“The government should extend the visa scheme to help prevent customers facing significant disruption this Christmas.”
Last month, the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) revealed that retail sales in the UK grew at their slowest pace since March in the 12 months to September.
The CBI’s monthly Distributive Trades Survey also found a slowing in the growth in orders placed with suppliers during the month.
Despite this, the organisation said it expected both sales and orders to accelerate in the next month.