High street footfall grew by 2.7% in the year to February, representing the strongest growth since December 2011, according to new figures.

The British Retail Consortium (BRC)/ Sringboard figures also show that footfall in out-of-town locations fell by 1.5% on the previous year, although this is a “significant improvement” on January’s figures, when total footfall declined by 4.6%.

Helen Dickinson, BRC director general, said it was encouraging to see improvements in footfall across the board, although there was a clear link between the number of shops and shoppers - the lowest footfall was in the North and Yorkshire, which has England’s highest vacancy rate.

“February 2013 was generally milder than the snow-hit month we saw the previous year, which is a surefire factor behind high streets posting their best result since December 2011,” she added. “This is definitely the standout story for February, but it’s only the third time in 12 months that high street footfall rates have edged over zero.

“Retailers will be hoping that Wednesday’s Budget delivers concrete measures to build on this boost and put more money in people’s pockets.”

Diane Wehrle, research director at Springboard, said the decline in footfall in shopping centres and retail parks could be explained by the recent drop in multiples being primarily located in such locations.

“For the high street, one swallow does not make a summer, but these results might hint at the green shoots of recovery, or at least some stabilisation in the current environment,” she added.