British retail picked up in the three months to the end of January, with footfall 1.8 per cent higher than a year earlier, according to the lastest figures from the British Retail Consortium.
This marks an improvement on the 2.3 per cent year-on-year decline recorded in the previous three months. However, the latest figures were boosted by a strong year-on-year rise in December, as the mild weather encouraged shoppers on to the high street. This marked a strong contrast with the snowy condition of December 2010, which kept potential shoppers at home.
Stephen Robertson, the BRC's director general, said: "The lift in shopper numbers for the quarter is almost entirely down to a strong Christmas. And December looks deceptively good because it's being compared with the heavy snowfall which affected the end of 2010.
"At the start of 2012, footfall numbers dipped again, showing underlying caution hasn't changed. Worries about personal finances and job security are putting people off shopping.
"Although inflation has started to ease, costs are still rising faster than wages. Any significant change in consumer sentiment is going to take time."