But the city centre has some way to go to catch Meadowhall, which also climbed the table to be ranked among the country's top 30 places to shop.
Sheffield city centre rose 24 spots to 223rd out of 1,000 shopping centres on the 'vitality index' compiled by Harper Dennis Hobbs. Meadowhall leapt four places to 28th.
The retail consultancy firm uses factors ranging from the number of vacant outlets to the proportion of 'undesirable' shops like pawnbrokers and bookmakers to rate the health of shopping centres across Britain.
It claims the rankings are a handy tool for businesses considering where to open new outlets.
Harper Dennis Hobbs also ranks the nation's shopping centres on market size, or 'retail spend potential', which is how much customers are likely to shell out in a year.
By this measure, Meadowhall ranks 29th, with a spend of Â£1.74bn, and Sheffield city centre is 39th, on Â£1.54bn.
London's West End easily tops that table, with Manchester fourth and Leeds fifth, but the 'vitality' rankings are headed by Cambridge.
James Ebel, executive director in Harper Dennis Hobbs's retail division, said: "The Vitality Index highlights some of the highest quality retail centres in Britain, demonstrating the fact that market size isn’t the only predictor for commercial success."
Sheffield's ranking may have been buoyed by regeneration along The Moor, where a new Primark store opened late last year, The Light cinema welcomed its first customers this spring and the third phase of the development is scheduled to begin soon at empty units opposite Debenhams.
Work is also well underway on HSBC's new offices at Charter Square, which is the first phase of the planned Sheffield Retail Quarter.
Meadowhall recently scaled but the size of its planned Â£300m extension following concerns about the impact on other shopping centres around the region.