Retail footfall fell 3.4% last month compared with October 2009, according to the latest Retail Traffic Index from Synovate.
This follows a 3% decline in September and is the 12th month in succession that a year-on-year deficit has been recorded by Synovate. Month-on-month footfall also fell, down 0.7 from September 2010.
Synovate's director of retail intelligence Dr Tim Denison said: "Store footfall figures are certainly going the wrong way for retailers at present. The year-on-year comparatives over the last couple of months are particularly disappointing, though October 2009 was a strong month. Of course, there is a structural element to bear in mind here - increasingly, more browsing and price comparing is being done online, rather than through visiting stores, but, that behavioural shift is not solely accountable for the ongoing and worsening deficit."
Dr Denison also blames shop price inflation for the decline in footfall last month, when food inflation rose by 4.4% in supermarkets, leaving less money in consumers' wallets to spend on discretionary goods.
He concluded: "We can expect to see the high street snow-deep in promotions over the winter to stimulate demand, but retailers will find it difficult to avoid passing some of the rising costs on to consumers. Increasingly, we are hearing our clients talk about 'coping strategies' to enable them to steer themselves through a difficult winter and to help their consumers do the same. There seems to be a renewed sense of social responsibility and transparency in the industry which should be welcomed and encouraged."
Synovate's Retail Traffic Index provides footfall data from 4,600 different outlets (excluding the grocery, convenience and minor retail service sectors) across the UK.