Online sales fell last month, mirroring shopping habits on the high street as soaring inflation forced consumers to tighten their belts, according to government retail figures.

However, the amount being spent on goods rose by 0.6% as the cost of living crisis continued to bite.

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) said online sales fell by 1.7% in May compared to the previous month, but it had plummeted by 7.9% when compared to May 2021, before inflation became a significant problem.

A huge 93% of shoppers told the ONS that their increase in spend was due to the cost of basic food shopping.

Delivery firm Parcelhero said consumers were cutting back on all non-essential spending, not just food shopping:

“Despite this fall, online shopping retained 26.6% of the overall retail market, considerably more than the 19.7% it achieved in February 2020, before the pandemic changed shopping habits forever,” said head of consumer research David Jinks.

“Longer term, UK retailers must align their High Street and online sales to counteract a likely further fall in consumer confidence in the months ahead.”