Shoppers have stayed away from the high street on what is usually a peak trading weekend before Christmas.
Footfall for Saturday across already struggling high streets throughout the UK plummeted more than 9% compared with the same time last year.
Freezing temperatures and the relentless popularity of shopping online are behind the terrible numbers, say experts.
Shopping centres and retail parks, combined with high streets, saw footfall down 7.3% up to 3pm on Saturday, retail intelligence experts Springboard said.
Diane Wehrle, Springboard’s marketing and insights director, said Storm Deirdre’s arrival would have deterred even the most loyal high street consumer from venturing out.
She said: “If people are presented with really terrible weather they then have the choice to shop online, and they can make other choices about what to do with their time.
“That unfortunately offers them sometimes better alternatives than trailing around a town centre or a high street in freezing cold or rainy weather.”
Saturday’s figures were “severely down” on last year, on what she described as a “peak trading weekend”.
She added that many shoppers may not venture out next weekend as it is so close to Christmas Day.
Shoppers may have already travelled to wherever they are spending the holidays, and may feel discouraged by bad weather forecasts, said Ms Wehrle.
September figures showed the UK to be suffering its worst year on record as store sales declined for the eighth consecutive month.
November’s bargain bonanza, Black Friday, also disappointed, with data showing the biggest drop in footfall for that week in three years.
Ms Wehrle said: “It’s unfortunate that the weather has come in.
“I think all retailers are finding it really tough, even the ones that are most resilient are finding it tough. And this is not what they need. This is really poor.”
She added that the trend now to discount items before Christmas and having sometimes all-year-round sales affects buyers’ attitudes towards price drops.
“We have come to expect discounts,” she said. “By the time we get to Christmas we’ve seen 20% off, we’ve seen 30% off, we’ve had Black Friday.”