RETAILERS can no longer rely on Christmas trading to make up for revenue lost earlier in the year, a new study suggests.

The report comes after high street shopper numbers continued to dwindle in December despite big discounts being offered.

Those behind the British Retail Consortium ( BRC) Springboard footfall and vacancies monitor said retailers should not ignore the warning signs of sales bonanzas failing to stimulate customer activity.

Discounting “is severely eroding the strength of Christmas as a major trading period”, the report said.

Footfall fell by 2.6% year-on-year in December – marking the 13th month in a row of declines.

Shopper numbers on the high street, in retail parks and in shopping centres were all found to be in decline last month.

Diane Wehrle, Springboard marketing and insights director, said: “The 2.6% decline in footfall in December 2018 – the ninth in 10 years, and the seventh consecutive year of decline – is undeniably strong evidence that retailers can no longer rely on Christmas trading to redeem revenue lost earlier in the year.

“If nothing else is learned from December 2018, it is that discounting does not stimulate customer activity, and is severely eroding the strength of Christmas as a major trading period.

“Ignoring the warning signs and continuing to bring sales forward undermines profitability and, ultimately, longer-term innovation in retailing.”

Footfall on the high street declined by 2.1% year-on-year. It was the fifth consecutive month of decline.

Retail parks had a similar fate, with December footfall 2.1% lower than a year earlier.

Footfall in shopping centres declined by 3.9% – marking 21 consecutive months of decline.

Helen Dickinson, chief executive of the BRC, said: “This continued drop, now on to its 13th month, continues to put pressure on bricks-and-mortar stores up and down the country.

“It comes at a time when retail is in the midst of a transformation, investing in technology and the online offer, as well as offering more experiences in physical shops.

“This is evolving many high streets into a destination for wider services, as well as shopping.”