Cost of living: Britons buying less food, ONS survey finds

·2-min read
The majority of Brits said their cost of living had risen over the past month. Photo: Matthew Horwood/Getty
The majority of Brits said their cost of living had risen over the past month. Photo: Matthew Horwood/Getty

Almost half of people in the UK have cut back on food purchases, while others are having to spend more on their shopping as the cost of living surges.

Figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS), published on Friday, show that 49% of Britons said they bought less food than normal between 22 June and 3 July, up from just 8% when the survey began in September 2021.

In the previous survey, between 8 June and 19 June, only 43% of adults said that they were buying less food.

Read more: Sainsbury's sales drop as boss warns UK cost of living will 'only intensify'

Another 48% said they had needed to spend more than usual on their food shopping. Overall, 91% of people said their cost of living had risen over the past month.

The same proportion also said they had done at least one thing to reduce their energy bills.

Inflation hit a 40-year high of 9.1% in May, with food and drink prices up 8.6%.

The ONS said rising prices for food and non-alcoholic beverages, compared with falls a year ago, resulted in the largest upward contribution to the annual rate of inflation.

UK inflation chart: Office for National Statistics
UK inflation chart: Office for National Statistics

The Bank of England expects price rises to peak above 11% in October when the energy price cap jumps again. Citi Bank has forecast that food price inflation will hit 20% by early next year.

Energy bills
Energy bills are set to soar further in winter 2022. Chart: Yahoo

The ONS numbers match reports from major grocers showing UK shoppers are under increasing financial pressure as household budgets are squeezed.

On Tuesday, Sainsbury's (SBRY.L) reported a 4% drop in underlying quarterly sales. The decline was in the 16 weeks to 25 June compared with the same period a year ago.

Grocery sales fell 2.4% in the period, partly reflecting strong comparative figures from last year when the hospitality industry was largely closed due to lockdowns.

Tesco (TSCO.L) said customers were making smaller, more frequent shopping trips and buying cheaper own-brand items.

Watch: How does inflation affect interest rates?

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