(Bloomberg) --

U.K retail sales fell unexpectedly for a fifth month as consumer confidence plunged, adding to evidence that the economic recovery is losing momentum.

The volume of goods sold in stores and online fell 0.2% last month, the Office for National Statistics said on Friday. Economists had expected an increase of 0.6%. It’s the longest period of consecutive monthly declines on record and came despite panic buying for fuel during a supply crisis. 

Household goods, furniture and lighting fell most sharply during the month, while food store sales increased. Fuel sales rose 2.9% in the month.

The figures shed light on the weakness of consumer spending as Bank of England policy makers weigh when to tighten monetary policy in response to a surge in inflation. Higher prices, supply shortages and rising taxes are all straining household finances, prompting a sharp drop in confidence about the outlook for the economy.

Consumer confidence dropped sharply in October, a separate survey by the market research firm GfK showed earlier Friday.

“The sharpest concern is how consumers see the future economy,”’ said Joe Staton, client strategy director at GfK. “Against a backdrop of cheeless news -- food and fuel shortages, surging inflation, squeezing household budgets, the likelihood of rate rises and climbing Covid rates -- it’s not surprising that consumers are feeling down.”

Read more: Britain’s Economy Finds Out What It Means to Live With Covid 

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