Cost of living crisis: UK inflation pushes shop prices to 11-year high

Prices up 2.7% on last year in April, to their highest rate since September 2011

A cashier attends to customers at a supermarket till in London, Britain, 28 April 2022. EPA
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Shop prices are up 2.7 per cent on last year marking their highest rate of inflation since September 2011, figures show.

The effect of rising energy prices and the conflict in Ukraine continued to feed through into April’s retail prices, with no sign of them abating, the BRC-NielsenIQ Shop Price Index shows.

Shop price annual inflation accelerated to 2.7 per cent in April, up from 2.1 per cent in March, and soaring beyond the 12 and six-month average increases of 0.4 per cent and 1.5 per cent, according to the index.

Food inflation accelerated to 3.5 per cent in April, up from 3.3 per cent in March.

But fresh food inflation slowed slightly from 3.5 per cent last month to 3.4 per cent amid fierce competition between supermarkets, which resisted price rises on everyday essentials.

Global food prices have reached record highs, seeing a 13 per cent rise last month, and even higher for cooking oils and cereals.

There have been warnings that they will place further upward pressure on UK food prices as they filter through the supply chain over coming months.

Non-food products, particularly furniture, electricals and books, have had the highest rate of inflation since records began in 2006, accelerating to 2.2 per cent in April from 1.5 per cent in March.

That was assisted by disruption at the world’s largest seaport after Shanghai’s recent lockdown.

“Retailers will continue to do all they can to keep prices down and deliver value for their customers by limiting price rises and expanding their value ranges," said British Retail Consortium chief executive Helen Dickinson.

"But this will put pressure on them to find cost-savings elsewhere. Unfortunately, customers should brace themselves for further price rises and a bumpy road ahead.”

Mike Watkins, head of retailer and business insight at NielsenIQ, said: “Inflation shows no signs of abating and the increase in non-food prices is an extra challenge for the high street as fragile consumer confidence and rising living costs are likely to negatively affect consumer spending.

“With food retailing no longer immune to these pressures, supermarkets are reacting by cutting the prices of some everyday grocery products, including private label, to help limit shop price inflation.”

Updated: May 04, 2022, 5:29 AM