Footfall across the country was down 2.4% compared to the same time last year, but up 3.4% month-on-month thanks to half-term holidays and Halloween.
The worst hit area in the UK was the south west and Wales, which reported a 6.8% year-on-year drop, followed by eastern England at -6.1%, the East Midlands at -4.6%, Scotland at -3.8% and London -2.7%. But in the north east, Yorkshire and Humberside, shopper numbers increased by 1.2%.
Jonathan Foster, retail analyst at Ernst and Young, said: "Overall the figures don’t make good reading for retailers as we enter this crucial Christmas period. Consequently we are anticipating very low like-for-like growth across the retail sector as a whole, with big variations in performance between the winners and losers. As ever, alongside customer service and product availability, promotional strategy will be key - the perennial conundrum being to ensure that margins are protected at the same time as driving sales growth."