Low earners also spend more of their income than high earners,meaning they receive a second bigger blow from rising prices.
Prices are expected to increase by 2.8pc this year, almost eclipsing pay growth and leaving household incomes rising by just 0.1pc in real terms over 2017, the Item Club believes, down from 1.8pc in 2016.
That inflation is driven in large part by the fall in the pound which is pushing up the cost of imported goods.
“Higher inflation will be the key culprit in the sharp slowdown in consumer spending growth this year, cutting off what has been an all-too-brief revival in real pay growth and continuing the dismal picture for real earnings seen since the financial crisis,” said Martin Beck, senior economic advisor to the EY Item Club.
“There should be some improvement in 2018, as inflation begins to cool, but even then we anticipate real wage growth of just 0.7pc. It is likely to be 2019 before workers begin to enjoy more ‘normal’ rates of real wage growth again.”
Inflation rose even more quickly back in 2011 with price rises peaking at more than 5pc, as high oil prices and VAT hikes pushed up living costs.
Economists do not expect this period of inflation to be that severe, and say consumer spending is “not heading for bust this year, [but] certainly faces the ingredients for a sharp slowdown”.