Heavy rain dampened retailers’ hopes for a strong start to the January sales with shopper numbers heading lower for the fourth year in a row, according to research company Springboard.

Footfall up until midday on Boxing Day tumbled 10.6% due to a combination of bad weather and the growth of online shopping said the consultant.

It was the largest decline since it started to monitor Boxing Day shopping trends ten years ago.

Diane Wehrle, Insights Director at Springboard, said footfall was significantly lower than on the morning of Black Friday.

“Boxing Day is indisputably a less important trading day than it once was,” she added.

Barclaycard, meanwhile, reported spending in the January sales will fall by £200mln from a year ago with the growing concern about impact of fashion on the environment one of the reasons.

Shares in retailers were mixed on a quiet trading day.

Ted Baker plc (LON:TED) dropped 7% to 417.6p,  Superdry PLC (LON:SDRY) eased 1% but sector leader Next PLC ( LON:NXT) – which will issue the industry’s first Christmas trading update a week today – added 2% to 7,236p.