An average Briton is estimated to be travelling 898 miles every year -- mostly by car -- on shopping alone, according to a government-commissioned study.

This has been mainly on account of the mushrooming spread of out-of-town super market shopping complexes, the study concluded.

The study, carried out by the department for environment, food and rural affairs (Defra), said while the super stores have spread their reach, the local retail outlets shrunk, making people travel for their needs. The decline in the number of local shops, said the study, meant that while a generation ago Britons made more frequent visits to local shops, people now are more likely to make fewer individual trips, but to travel greater distances, usually by driving. The "food miles" increased by as much as 15 per cent in the 10 years to 2002.