Footfall was sharply up across the UK retail sector in the last full week of trading before Christmas, helping to make up for gloomy figures earlier in December.

Shopper numbers rose 2.3% year-on-year across all locations in the week beginning 12 December, but the total was helped by soft comparatives with last year, when severe weather had an impact.

Shopping centres recorded a 5.7% increase in footfall compared to the previous week, while for the high street, numbers were up 2.3%. Out-of-town locations were up 0.5%.

The positive figures were a welcome fillip to retailers after the previous week, when high street shoppers were down 2.6% on last year, while for shopping centres and out-of-town the declines were 1.9% and 0.2% respectively.

“This is confirmation that last weekend was the big shopping weekend retailers had been hoping for,” said Stephen Robertson, director general of the British Retail Consortium.

“After a late start to Christmas buying, consumers were out on the streets in greater numbers than for the same week in 2010, although the big question is whether it has translated into enough actual spending to make up for a largely disappointing year.”

Diane Wehrle, research director for Springboard, which compiled the figures, added: “Based on the footfall figures we have seen over the past weeks, we anticipate a real shopper rush over the next three days of trading, with shoppers looking to take advantage of last-minute offers retailers are putting on.”