The economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic saw the global outlay on transfer fees during the January window almost half compared to last year, FIFA said on Wednesday.
Spending fell from $1.16 billion in 2020 to $590 million in 2021, the lowest sum since 2014.
Clubs have had to cope with lost matchday revenue from games behind closed doors due to Covid-19 restrictions, as well as rebates to television broadcasters and a tough commercial sponsorship market.
Amad Diallo's move from Atalanta to Manchester United for a reported £37 million ($51.5 million) was the highest fee paid.
Women's football bucked the trend with the amount spent on transfer fees up from $194,000 to $310,000 but they remain a tiny fraction of the money spent on player moves in the men's game.