Food prices last month fell for the first time in at least eight years as both fresh and ambient food categories reported annual deflation.
Food prices fell 0.2% during November, according to the latest British Retail Consortium (BRC)-Nielsen Shop Price Index.
Overall shop prices declined for the nineteenth consecutive month, equalling the record low deflation of 1.9% reported in July 2014. Non-food deflation slowed to 2.9% from 3.1% in October.
BRC director general Helen Dickinson said: “Food prices were deflationary in November – the first time since our records began in December 2006. This is the first month that ambient food has reported annual deflation in the history of the series and is a sharp decline from the 0.9% inflation rate reported in October.
Deflation was experienced across all ambient food subcategories. Fresh food reported annual deflation for only the third month since the series began in December 2006, BRC said, falling 0.3% in November from a 0.4% fall in October. Downward pressure came from the milk, cheese & eggs, vegetables and convenience food categories and fish.
“Falling commodity prices, particularly oil, suggests the outlook for inflation remains benign,” said Dickinson. “The price of oil, a near five year low, has a significant impact on the costs of producing food, impacting everything from the cost of feed to transport. Given the intensity of competition in the food sector, these savings have been passed on to consumers in the form of lower prices. The strong pound has also helped keep prices low as imports are now cheaper and it’s worth remembering that the UK gets roughly a quarter of its food beyond its shores.
“At the same time, we’re seeing the big supermarkets investing in price cuts worth millions of pounds during a hugely competitive period in the food market. With food prices down, wages up, a highly competitive market keeping inflation low – and Christmas around the corner – there are plenty of good reasons to assume a strong trading period lies just head of us”.
Deflation in the clothing and footwear category deepened in November to 9.7% from 9.2% the previous month. However all other subcategories experienced a slowing down of deflation rates in November.
Health & Beauty and Other Non-Food were the only categories to experience inflation.