Footfall in March was 5.2% lower than a year ago, a poorer performance than the 0.8% rise in February according to the latest BRC/Springboard Footfall Monitor.
The figures show this as the weakest performance since April 2012 when footfall declined 6.9%.
The prolonged cold snap this year explains in part these poor figures, especially against the unseasonably warm weather in March last year.
Footfall weakened in all locations in March compared with a year earlier. High streets reported the greatest fall (-7.0%), the weakest performance since July 2012 followed by out-of-town (-4.2%) and shopping centres (-2.4%).
Helen Dickinson, British Retail Consortium Director General, said: "The prolonged cold was the main culprit for deterring shoppers, especially compared against the far milder March of 2012. Although footfall did pick up around the Easter weekend, it couldn't fully compensate for a weak showing across the month as a whole.
"High streets were hit the hardest by the cold snap, as many of us favoured shopping under shelter rather than braving the elements. In February, high streets had been the standout performer, but March saw footfall growth slumping back to subzero territory – high streets' worst result since July 2012.
"It's not all bad news: our March sales figures were fairly strong, even if you strip out the data for the Easter weekend which fell earlier this year than in 2012. This suggests that, when people did venture out, they bought things, although the weather brought mixed fortunes for different categories as food did well but Spring and Summer fashions fared badly. With temperatures finally showing some signs of lifting, retailers will be hoping that demand also starts to heat up for seasonal ranges and Spring shopping trips."