Even more evidence that consumers are changing how they shop came today (16 January) with the news UK shopper numbers declined in December, albeit at a slower rate than the prior month.

According to the BRC/Springboard Footfall Monitor, retail footfall edged down 0.7% on a year ago, but up on the 2.4% fall seen in November.

High streets continued to be the worst victim, reporting a 1.8% decline. Shopping centres saw footfall edge down 0.1% year-on-year - the lowest fall in footfall since January last year.

Out-of-town booked the only rise, 1.3% higher than a year ago and has experienced positive footfall growth for every month in 2014.

BRC director general Helen Dickinson said the overall decline is "undoubtedly a result of the continuing changes in the way we all prefer to shop".

But fewer shoppers does not necessarily equal poorer sales, she noted, adding: "This tells us that retailers are getting to grips with the way people's shopping habits are changing and using methods like click-and-collect to drive internet traffic toward physical stores while, at the same time, targeting discounts to encourage higher sales.

"What we are seeing currently is the online and physical retailing finding out how they best fit together in the new multi-channel world."

While Diane Wehrle, retail insights director at Springboard, noted: "Whilst online shopping becomes ever more mature and shoppers are increasingly demanding in terms of choice and flexibility to buy, the improved footfall position of our retail destinations in what is our peak trading period of the year indicates that online is driving activity back into bricks and mortar stores."