Grocery store sales fell 0.2% in the month to February 2022, 0.1% below pre-pandemic levels in February 2020.
According to the Office of National Statistics (ONS), the drop in sales was driven by a 16.1% drop in sales at liquor and tobacco stores.
The ONS said it could be ‘linked to higher spending in pubs and restaurants as confidence in going out increases’.
Supermarkets were up 0.3% on the month, but this was offset by declines in specialty food stores of 2%.
“After a dynamic month of January, retail sales fell slightly last month. There has been a noticeable decline for businesses that trade primarily online, after strong performance over the festive and New Year period,” said Heather Bovill, ONS Deputy Director for Surveys and Indicators. economic.
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“Food sales fell with significant declines for liquor and tobacco stores as more consumers visited pubs and restaurants.”
The news comes after inflation hit a 30-year high of 6.2% in February, with food inflation hitting 5.1%.
Fidelity International associate director Emma-Lou Montgomery told The Guardian“We are facing an increasingly difficult financial situation, with rising costs, which means that it will have to be necessities rather than ‘nice to have’ for the months to come.
“There is little end in sight. Fears that inflation will go much higher than the originally projected 8% are rife, further impacting people’s willingness and ability to spend on anything other than the bare necessities.
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