The number of shoppers visiting UK stores slid 18.6% in December compared with two years earlier, or before the onset of the coronavirus pandemic, according to the British Retail Consortium.
Globally, concerns over the Omicron variant have prompted major companies to tighten their protocols.
Companies are battling to source products and raw materials in a robust global economic recovery as the pandemic continues to disrupt everyday life in parts of the world.
Dozens of ships carrying hundreds of thousands of containers remain at anchor outside the Los Angeles harbour, waiting for a berth on docks packed to capacity.
Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs Minister Alexander Nanta Linggi says this will be made a prerequisite for companies to be given approval to resume operations.