Brits buy less food amid cost of living crisis

Households are cutting back on food purchases as costs soar, official stats show

young woman carrying a shopping basket
(Image credit: Getty images)

Households are buying less food following soaring inflation which has led to unaffordable price rises for many.

Latest figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) found that 41% of adults reported cutting back on their grocery shop due to the rising costs, while spending on subscription services has also fallen.

The figure, taken from poll responses between April 27 and May 8, is an increase from the 39% in the previous survey, carried out earlier in April.

Around 88% of adults reported a rise in their cost of living over the past month, the ONS said.

Myron Jobson, senior personal finance analyst at interactive investor, said the fastest-climbing rate of inflation, which is currently at a 30 year high of 7%, is “hurting consumers across the nation who are witnessing ever higher prices for seemingly everything, from the food they put on their tables, to energy and petrol.”

The survey said the rising cost of living was primarily driven by more expensive food, with 92% of people reporting an increase in the price of their food shopping.

Around 85% of Britons surveyed also highlighted increases in gas and electricity bills, with 79% saying fuel was more expensive over the period.

Almost six in 10 people (58%) said they were most worried about the high cost of gas and electricity bills.

“The ONS figures also suggest that the inflation pinch is more acute for parents,” Jobson added. “Households with and without children experienced a similar rate of inflation for most of 2021, but the gap widened - with the latter group experiencing higher levels of inflation in the last quarter of the year.

Sarah Coles, senior personal finance analyst, Hargreaves Lansdown added the ‘harsh reality’ facing the poorest families is that they are having to “shift their spending to stay financially afloat amid rising prices.”

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Tom Higgins is a journalist covering all aspects of the financial world, from investing and sustainability to pensions and personal finance. He graduated from Goldsmiths, University of London in June 2020 and has since written online and in print for the Financial Times group, New Statesman media group, numerous trade magazines, and has worked with Bloomberg on social media projects. He has a deep interest in environmentalism, social change, and data-driven storytelling. He can be found tweeting at @tomhuwhig.