UK retail sales dropped in March by much more than expected as the surge in inflation hurt consumer demand, according to new data.

Retail sales volumes slid by 1.4% in March from February, a worse reading than any economist forecast in a Reuters poll that had pointed to a 0.3% monthly drop, the Office for National Statistics said.

Food and petrol sales fell sharply on the month with the ONS citing rising prices as possible explanations for the falls. Online retail sales also declined.

A separate survey  showed consumer confidence close to its lowest level since records began nearly 50 years ago.

Bank of England Governor Andrew Bailey said that the bank was walking a tight line between tackling inflation and avoiding recession.

Earlier this month, Tesco, Britain’s biggest retailer, warned of a drop in profits as high inflation squeezes the supermarket group and its customers.