// Consumers are spending less on food due to the cost-of-living crisis
// Smaller grocery bills were the main factor behind a 0.5% drop in retail sales
Retail sales have dropped as consumers spend less on food due to the cost-of-living crisis.
Brits have been forced to cut back on their weekly supermarket shop as inflation hits, the ONS said.
Smaller grocery bills were the main factor behind a 0.5% drop in retail sales in the UK last month.
Department stores and household goods outlets also reported a drop in customer spend because of a higher cost of living.
The ONS said the 1.5% decrease in the volume of food sales appeared to be linked to inflation, which as measured by the consumer prices index hit a 40-year-high of 9.1% in May.
Retail sales growth in April was also revised down from an original estimate of 1.4% to 0.4%, while in the three months to May – a better guide to the underlying trend than a single month’s figures – spending was down by 1.3% on the previous quarter.
The ONS said the fall in retail sales was more marked when spending by motorists on petrol and diesel was excluded.
On this basis, retail sales were down by 0.7% on the month and 1.5% over the quarter.
ONS deputy director for surveys and economic indicators, Heather Bovill said: “Retail sales fell in May driven by a decline in food sales. 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.”