Brits are tightening their purse strings as shoppers spent 1.6 per cent less on food in May as alcohol and cigarettes sales fall by four per cent.
Spending at the butchers and bakers is now down by 2.2 per cent according to research done by the Office for National Statistics (ONS).
The drop in retails sales in May came after sales tumbled 1.6per cent across food stores, with sales in supermarkets dropping 1.5 per cent.
The biggest decline in spending was seen on alcohol and tobacco, with sales down 4 per cent across the country.
Amid the biggest cost of living crisis in 40 years Brits are also cutting back on household goods and spending in department stores.
Shoppers have started to worry about affordability, with sales in household goods dropping 2.3 per cent and 1.1 per cent in department stores.
It comes as almost half of Brits say they have cut back on car journeys in the past two weeks after the surge in fuel prices.
The cost of living crisis ha sparked fears that the UK could be heading for a recession as retail spending plummets. Shoppers have been cutting back on their food shop, with numbers dropping 1.6 per cent in May
Figures from the ONS revealed that Brits have been tightening their belts for the past few months, but there has been a sharp decline since the start of the year when the cost-of-living crisis began to hit
The ONS reported 91 per cent of people saw a rise in the overall cost of living over the period to June 19 as food, energy and fuel all weighed on shoppers.
This represented an 88 per cent from two weeks earlier as inflation continued to rise.
A rise in grocery bills is said to have contributed to the higher cost of living in 93 per cent of households, and 80 per cent of people blamed the increase spending on fuel.
A fifth of people, 20 per cent, said they were most worried about the higher cost of fuel, with 45 per cent of households admitting that they were cutting back on nonessential travel in cars and other vehicles.
It comes after figures from firm Experian data showed the average price of a liter of diesel at UK forecourts reached a new high of 197.1p earlier this week.
The average price of petrol was a record 189.3p per litre, compared to133.5p for diesel and 131.1p for petrol a year ago.
It comes amid mounting signs the cost-of-living crisis is beginning to take its toll on the economy.
Supermarket giant Asda said earlier this week that some shoppers were asking cashiers to stop scanning items when the till total hits £30 to cut costs.
Pizza, energy bills and pump prices heap woe on Britons’ wallets
Households are continuing to be hit by high energy and fuel prices, new data shows, but the costs of other products, like pizza and quiche, rose more rapidly between April and May.
The cost of filling up a family car with petrol last month was around 30.4 per cent higher than a year ago, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) revealed.
Meanwhile, the cost of using a gas-powered boiler has risen by 95.5 per cent, and the prices of liquid fuel, electricity and diesel have also soared.
But energy prices had already spiked in April and were little changed in May, the figures show.
Bigger changes between the two months can be seen elsewhere.
Potatoes had previously avoided some of the high inflation figures that other food items saw in recent months.
However, in May they started catching up as the rate of inflation for potatoes more than doubled to 5.1 per cent.
Pizza and quiche prices had risen by 3.1 per cent in the year to April; a month later this had increased to 12.3 per cent.
The ONS has a list of goods and services which households across the UK regularly buy. In order to calculate the inflation rate, statisticians measure if the prices
of these items have changed and by how much.
Those products that people spend more on, such as petrol, count more towards the inflation figures than smoked meats, for instance.
Official figures on Wednesday showed inflation has reached a fresh 40-year high of 9.1 per cent and there are fears a large drop in spending by consumers may tip the UK into a recession.
Retail sales have been gradually falling as consumer sentiment has hit its lowest on record with households battling the squeeze from inflation.
Chancellor Rishi Sunak tried to reassure people that he will be able to reduce inflation, but did not reject a prediction from many economists that the UK is heading for recession.
Heather Bovill, deputy director for surveys and economic indicators at the ONS, said: ‘Feedback from supermarkets suggested customers were spending less on their food shop because of the rising cost of living.
‘More workers returning to the office may have contributed to increased fuel sales this month while shoppers buying outfits for summer holidays helped boost clothing sales.
‘These rises were offset by falls for household goods and department stores, with retailers in these areas reporting consumer reluctance to spend due to affordability worries and higher prices.’
Industry figures from Kantar this week revealed shoppers are set to see their annual grocery bill jump by £380 to £4,960 in 2022 as inflation sends prices rising across the board.
The ONS said non-food stores sales were unchanged in May, with a 2.2 per cent increase in clothing sales offset by a fall in household goods.
The data revealed that fuel sales jumped by 1.1per cent in May, driven by an increase of workers returning to offices.
The proportion of online sales slipped back to 26.6 per cent from 27.1 per cent in April as shoppers returned to stores, but the ONS said this remained ‘substantially higher than before the pandemic’.
The ONS said average petrol prices rose by 4.1p per liter in May, compared with a smaller rise of 1.7p per liter a year ago.
Diesel prices were up 3.6 pence per litre, as opposed to 1.5p per litre a year ago.
Food prices added more than 0.2 percentage points to the inflation number.
Clothing and footwear prices helped keep a lid on inflation, while recreation and culture prices also pulled it downwards.
The news will add to the difficulties faced by many people across the UK. Energy bills rose by 54 per centfor the average household at the beginning of April and will remain at this level until October.
The largest drop in sales was in the tobacco and alcohol sector, with spending at butchers and bakers is down by 2.2 per cent
The ONS said non-food stores sales were unchanged in May, with a 2.2 per cent increase in clothing sales offset by a fall in household goods
But forecasts released this week predict that the Government cap on energy bills could rise again from an already record high £1,971 to £2,980 in the autumn.
The Bank of England has predicted that inflation will peak at more than 11 per cent in October after the price cap is changed again.
Ukraine is one of the biggest grain producers in the world and the war has hit global prices and availability.
The price of flour and other cereals in the UK had been decreasing before the Russian invasion, but has been ticking up since.
Between February and April price rises increased from 2.3 per cent to 9.3 per cent. But in May prices leaped and are now 16.3 per cent higher than a year ago.
Price rises of olive oil also accelerated from 9.5 per cent in April to 18 per cent in May, the ONS said.
The retail prices index, which is used to calculate train fares, rose from 11.1 per cent in April to 11.7 per cent in May.