Christmas retail footfall has begun to build, according to the British Retail Consortium (BRC), although shopper numbers are still down on the same period of last year.

Footfall increased 7.3% week-on-week in the week beginning 26 November, the BRC Springboard Footfall Monitor found, although it was down 3.7% on a year-on-year basis.

However, a public sector strike in the same week last year led to a sharp rise in footfall as many took advantage of a work-free day to go shopping.

Shopping centres and out-of-town centres have fared worst, with declines of 5.5% and 5.7% respectively on a year-on year basis. High streets recorded a better performance with a 2.1% decline over the week.

"Shopper numbers went up by 7.3% last week compared with the previous week, suggesting that passing the ‘one month to go' mark, coupled with payday, motivated many to start making some headway on their Christmas lists," said BRC director general Stephen Robertson.

"Shopping centres saw some particularly strong growth, which is likely to be the result of many favouring shopping under shelter when bad weather battered much of the UK.

"But footfall was down compared with the same week in 2011, indicating that some are holding back on festive shopping more than they did last year. It's important to note that the same week last year coincided with a public sector strike and so comparisons are against unusually high levels. 

"This trend of taking care not to spend too much too soon paints a similar picture to the November Retail Sales Monitor, and confirms that there's all to play for as Christmas gets ever closer."