Non-food shopping trips in May rose by 2.2% year on year making it the busiest May on the high street for the last three years.
Footfall last month was also up 6.4% on April figures according to the latest data from Retail Traffic Index analysts SPSL. However the figures were flattered by a poor May in 2007 and boosted by early Sale promotions.
SPSL retail psychologist Dr Tim Denison put the increase in shoppers down to good weather at the beginning of the month. He said: "Good weather for the first half of May boosted shopper numbers considerably, unleashing latent interest especially in seasonal items. We had not expected such a marked resurgence."
He added that retailers managed to keep shoppers on the high street later in the month when the weather took a turn for the worse by launching "catch them while you can" Sales.
But he warned that a poor May in 2007 flattered this month's figures and that deep discounting by retailers after a slow April and March also had an effect.
He said: "The decision to bring Sale campaigns forward to even earlier than last year is designed to boost business and re-engage the shopper. Looking forward we predict that June will see even more special promotions designed to get shoppers out of their homes and into stores. Expect to see downloadable vouchers normally only seen at Christmas, one day or even one hour events and special warehouse and summer clearances. Expect a bargain bonanza right through to September."