Household spending in Britain has fallen at an unprecedented rate over the past three years, an economic study has claimed.

In a study of the last recession, the Institute of Fiscal Studies (IFS) also said there were marked changes in the areas people cut back on compared with previous economic downturns.

Food purchases were significantly lower in the last recession, due to higher food prices, along with lower spending on holidays, alcohol and eating out.

Household expenditure fell by 5% in real terms between 2008 and the first quarter of 2009, when Britain was last officially in recession, but unlike the previous two downturns, in 1980-81 and 1990-91, spending has still not recovered to its pre-recession levels.