The retail price index (RPI) has fallen into negative territory for the first time since 1960 as decades of inflation come to an end.

In the year to March all items on the RPI fell by 0.4 per cent compared with no change in February according to the Office of National Statistics (ONS).

The biggest downwards pressure came from falling energy prices and there was also a downward contribution from food and non-alcoholic beverages.

There was some upward pressure from clothing and footwear where prices have been rising, particularly across women’s outerwear, said the ONS.

The RPI inflation measure includes housing and mortgage costs which have reduced considerably after a number of interest rate cuts by the Bank of England.