British retail sales fell more sharply than expected in May, data showed on Thursday, the latest sign of the growing hit to the economy from rising inflation since the Brexit vote.
Even before last week's election which left the country without a majority government and facing political uncertainty, retail sales volumes fell 1.2 percent month-on-month in May, a heavier downturn that the median forecast for a fall of 0.8 percent in a Reuters poll of economists.
The fall followed an unexpectedly strong jump in April which economists had said was likely to prove a blip.
British households have been pinched by a rise in inflation, caused in large part by the fall in the value of the pound since last year's referendum decision to leave the European Union, and by a slowdown in pay growth.
"Increased retail prices across all sectors seem to be a significant factor in slowing growth," ONS statistician Kate Davies said about May's weaker-than-expected sales volumes.
In monthly terms, sales fell across the board except for fuel.
Data this week showed inflation hitting its highest level in nearly four years at 2.9 percent while pay, when adjusted for inflation, fell by the most since 2014.
The dissatisfaction with living standards is widely seen as a factor behind Prime Minister Theresa May's loss of her parliamentary majority in last week's election.