THE gap between the richest and poorest households is at its largest since records began 15 jare terug.
The Resolution Foundation think tank said it grew by 1.5 per cent last month alone — mostly down to those on lower incomes spending a higher share of their budgets on soaring energie rekeninge.
Spokesman Jack Leslie said: “The Chancellor should prioritise support at low-and-middle-income households.”
Crooks usually take more expensive items to sell on — such as booze and razors.
But now stores are being hit by big rises in the theft of “daily essential and low-value items” — and say levels “are off the charts”.
Read more on cost of living
To help track people coming in and out, some shops have reintroduced the one-way entry and exit points they set up during the pandemic.
Others have beefed up security with more staff and extra CCTV cameras.
One store boss told trade magazine The Grocer: “With the cost of living, people are having to start making choices.”
Food poverty expert and Ulster University lecturer Dr Sinéad Furey said: “The return of ‘stealing to eat’ instead of being able to afford to eat is proof we need policy solutions so resorting to crime does not become a mainstream means of securing basic essentials.”