The British Retail Consortium says Wales has seen the highest decline in shopper numbers across the UK.
In January they fell by 4.6% compared to a year ago. The biggest decline was at shopping centres followed by the High Street and out-of-town sites.
Meanwhile the number of empty shops was also up on the previous three months.
It is one the busiest weekends for retailers across Wales as thousands of shoppers rush to pick up last minute gifts for Christmas.
Chris Parry, a senior lecturer in Banking and Finance at the Cardiff School of Management, said it will be "the best year (for retailers) for three or four years".
"Smaller businesses have had two of three years where they've struggled tremendously.
"This Christmas is going to help them. It's going to save many of them from going out of business."
Confidence among small businesses in Wales is continuing to rise, according to a survey by the Federation of Small Businesses.
The survey also showed that small businesses in Wales saw turnover rise for the first time since the third quarter of 2010.
This comes despite shopping numbers in August in Wales being 2.7 per cent lower than a year ago.
However, this could be down to an exceptional month last year as a result of the London 2012 Games.
In May the number of shoppers was down 1.1% according to the British Retail Consortium.
Across the UK the number was down 0.7%.
Latest footfall figures show shoppers took to Wales' high streets 'in great numbers' last month.
In the latest High Street Index, the number of shoppers increased by nearly four per cent compared with March 2011, and nearly 17 per cent compared with February this year.
Springboard figures show that Wales is doing better than the UK as a whole, with the national footfall decreasing two per cent on March last year.
Coastal towns benefited from soaring temperatures in late March with Porthcawl, in Bridgend, achieving about a one hundred per cent footfall increase.
- Wales month-on-month 16.9% increase
- Wales year-on-year 3.9% increase
- Porthcawl, Bridgend, saw an increase in 101.5%
Sales at St David's Dewi Sant shopping centre in Cardiff rose 9 per cent between April 2011 - March 2012, compared to the previous year. The number of visitors to the centre also increased by 2 per cent over the year, moving past the 38-million mark.
The positive figures for the outlet, which opened in October 2009, go against the UK-wide trend.