British consumers cut back on shopping in May in the face of fast-rising inflation,, according to data that underscored the scale of the cost-of-living squeeze.
The Office for National Statistics said on Friday that sales volumes in May fell by 0.5% on the month
The fall was driven by weaker food sales, Heather Bovill, ONS deputy director for surveys and economic indicators, said.
“Feedback from supermarkets suggested customers were spending less on their food shop, because of the rising cost of living,” she said.
Helen Dickinson, Chief Executive of the British Retail Consortium, said:
“Households reined in spending as the cost-of-living crunch continued to squeeze consumer demand. Many customers are buying down, particularly with food, choosing value range items where they might previously have bought premium goods. High value items, such as furniture and white goods, were also impacted as shoppers reconsidered major purchases during this difficult time.
“Higher operational and input costs have filtered through to prices, meaning both retailers and their customers are in for hard times ahead. Retailers are doing what they can to support households by absorbing as much of the costs as possible, expanding their value ranges, offering discounts for some vulnerable groups, and investing in their own supply chains to reduce future costs. If costs continue to spiral, Government will need to be ready to support struggling households.”