The volume of customers visiting the retail stores fell by 5.2% for the month of March 2013, compared to same period in 2012, according to the British Retail Consortium (BRC)/Springboard Footfall Monitor.

The report reveals that the drop follows a 0.8% increase in the preceding month of February 2013.

Drawn-out cold climate, compared to warm weather witnessed in March 2012, is primarily responsible for the lowest footfall in last 12 months.

Commenting on the report, BRC director general Helen Dickinson noted that the prolonged cold has discouraged shoppers, more so when compared to March of 2012 that had milder weather conditions.

"Although footfall did pick up around the Easter weekend, it couldn’t fully compensate for a weak showing across the month as a whole," added Dickinson.

On the basis of locations, high street reported the greatest fall of 7%, the weakest numbers recorded since July 2012.

Out-of-town stores and shopping centres have also been affected by the cold weather, evident from respective falls of 4.2% and 2.4%.

"High streets were hit the hardest by the cold snap, as many of us favoured shopping under shelter rather than braving the elements.

"In February, high streets had been the standout performer, but March saw footfall growth slumping back to subzero territory – high streets’ worst result since July 2012," asserted Dickinson.

Nevertheless, the director general said that the sales during the month fared well, even after withdrawing the performance during Easter that fell earlier compared to 2012.

The last week of the month returned positive performance with retail park footfall rising up 7.9% against the previous week.

"This suggests that, when people did venture out, they bought things, although the weather brought mixed fortunes for different categories as food did well but Spring and Summer fashions fared badly.

"With temperatures finally showing some signs of lifting, retailers will be hoping that demand also starts to heat up for seasonal ranges and Spring shopping trips," added Dickinson.