Almost 1 in 5 people - 18.7% - borrowed money to buy groceries last month, according to new research from the Debt Advisory Centre.
The amount of people borrowing money to pay for food in February was three times higher than the figure for last July - when it stood at just 6%. The current figure is 9.4 million people.
According to the research, borrowing to cover food costs remains most common in young people. In July 2013, 18% of 18-24 year olds said they had done it, while in February the figure reached 33.6% of this age group - just over a third. The percentage of 25-34 year olds borrowing to buy food has doubled from 11% to 23.3%.
The figures also highlight regional differences. Borrowing to cover grocery costs was most likely to occur in London, with 25.6% of people in the capital revealing that they did it last month. In contrast, people in the South West were the least likely to turn to borrowing for their food shop, although the percentage was still relatively high at 14.4%.
Ian Williams of the Debt Advisory Centre commented on the findings:
“It’s very worrying that people have to borrow to pay for food at all, but the fact this figure is rising so sharply is a real cause for concern.
“Borrowing to pay for food is a danger sign that your household finances are out of control. If one of the reasons for this is that you are already struggling to make debt repayments then borrowing more will make matters worse. Either way, people should certainly seek expert debt advice.”