No respite for UK consumers as shop price inflation hits record high

High prices are forcing many households to trim back non-essential spending, experts say

A shopper pushes a food trolley through a supermarket in central London. EPA
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New figures show UK shop price inflation has reached a record high amid warnings that consumers are unlikely to see prices drop again for months.

According to the British Retail Consortium-NielsenIQ Shop Price Index, prices in shops are now 8.4 per cent higher than they were a year ago, up from an 8 per cent increase in January and well above the three-month average of 7.8 per cent.

Food inflation rose from 13.8 per cent in January, accelerating to a record 14.5 per cent in February, while fresh food prices are also now a record 16.3 per cent higher than a year ago, up from 15.7 per cent in January.

A weaker pound resulted in imports of fresh food from Europe, especially vegetables, rising in price.

Inflation on products other than food hit a high of 5.3 per cent, up from 5.1 per cent last month and above the three-month average of 4.9 per cent, with gardening tools and pet food particularly affected by cost pressures.

“Shop price inflation rose to another record high as retail prices across the board continued to react to the impact of soaring energy bills, higher running costs and tougher trading conditions brought about by the war in Ukraine,” BRC chief executive Helen Dickinson said.

“While we expect to see the annual inflation rate reduce in the second half of this year, retail prices will remain high over the coming months.”

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Mike Watkins, head of retailer and business insight at NielsenIQ, said: “With more than half of UK consumers (56 per cent) feeling they are in a worse financial position compared to a year ago and inflation still stubbornly high, many households are trimming back on non-essential spending.

“And as volume sales are down on last year, some retailers are having to work even harder to encourage customer spend, including additional price cuts or promotional activity. This is likely to continue until consumer confidence starts to improve.”

Updated: March 01, 2023, 12:49 AM