Britain on the brink of recession as families cut back on shopping

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Heather Bovill, ONS deputy director, said: “Feedback from supermarkets suggested customers were spending less on their grocery store, due to the rising cost of living.”

April sales growth was also cut sharply from 1.4% to 0.4%, raising the specter of a slowdown in consumer spending tipping Britain into a contraction in the second quarter.

British Retail Consortium surveys suggest conditions in the sector have deteriorated further over the past month.

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Martin Beck of EY Item Club said the second half of the year would be a “challenging time for retailers, with consumer purchasing power under significant pressure due to very high inflation and of rising personal taxes, and with confidence continuing to decline.”

He added: “The retail sector is effectively already in recession and the broader consumer sector is expected to experience a marked downturn this year.”

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The decline was only marginally better than economists feared, with City’s consensus pointing to a 0.7pc fall.

This comes on top of a string of dire economic numbers for May, which also included higher than expected borrowing and a new 40-year high for headline inflation.

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