Scotland was the only part of the UK to report a rise in the number of shoppers visiting retailers last month, although it was a marginal annual increase of just 0.2 per cent.
Experts said the growth was a “welcome relief” after declining figures over the past seven months.
It was significantly above the 4.2 per cent dip for November and is the best footfall performance since April last year.
The national picture showed three out of seven regions in England experienced a decline greater than the UK December average, which revealed a fall of 2.2 per cent.
Today’s figures were contained in the monthly footfall monitor from the Scottish Retail Consortium (SRC) and Springboard, which gathers data on customer activity in 254 towns and cities as well as out-of-town shopping centres across the UK.
SRC director David Lonsdale said: “Buoyed by Christmas, cheaper petrol and by retailers’ own promotional and pricing efforts, this was a more encouraging end to the year for shopper footfall in Scotland.
“The growth in shopper numbers last month may only have been a smidgen higher than in the same period the year before, however it comes as welcome relief after declining figures in each of the previous seven months.”
Lonsdale added: “The challenge for our town centres will be turning this into a more sustained uptick in the months ahead, particularly as the popularity of online shopping and click-and-collect services continues to soar, providing ever greater choice and convenience for customers.
“The challenge for retailers, as ever, is to turn browsing into buying and we await figures later this week to see if higher footfall leads to a commensurate rise in the total value of retail sales.”