Half of Britons buy less food as prices surge

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LONDON, July 8 (Reuters) – Almost half of British people have cut back on food purchases as prices surge, while others are having to spend more on their shopping, according to official figures on Friday which show the scale of the current cost-of-living squeeze.

British consumer price inflation hit a 40-year high of 9.1% in May – with food and drink prices up 8.6% – and the Bank of England expects the annual CPI rate to exceed 11% in October when a 40% rise in regulated energy tariffs will hit.

Friday’s figures from the Office for National Statistics showed that 49% of people said they had bought less food than normal between June 22 and July 3, up from just 8% when the survey began in September 2021.

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.

These figures match reports from British supermarkets that shoppers are under increasing financial pressure.

Sainsbury’s SBRY.L reported a 4% drop in underlying quarterly sales on Tuesday and Tesco, Britain’s biggest supermarket, said customers were making smaller, more frequent shopping trips and buying cheaper own-brand items. 

U.S. bank Citi forecast last month that British food price inflation would exceed 20% by early next year. 

(Reporting by David Milliken, Editing by Paul Sandle)

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