- Overall shop prices deflated 0.8% year-on-year
- Food inflation accelerated to 1% in March
- Non-food prices remained low with deflation accelerating to 2%
Food inflation accelerated to 1% in March, marking the sharpest rise in food prices since February 2014, as supermarkets face climbing commodity costs.
The level, according to the British Retail Consortium (BRC) and Nielsen’s shop price data for March, is 1% higher than last year and up from the 0.8% drop in January.
Despite being the steepest rise in over three years, the price increases are low, the BRC said, given the 17% hike in global food commodity costs piling pressure on the food supply chain.
BRC chief executive Helen Dickinson said retailers’ reluctance to pass more costs on to the consumer reflected “continuing intense competition” between the grocers.
Fresh food prices grew to 0.9%, from 0.1% in February, while ambient food inflation accelerated to 1.3%, up from the 0.8% rise in February.
“The limited increase is even more impressive, given the magnitude of the devaluation in sterling,” Dickinson added.
Non-food prices remained low with deflation accelerating to 2% in March, off the back of a 1.8% fall in February.
The decline was driven by price reductions in fashion, down 5.9% year-on-year; furniture and floorcoverings, down 2.6%; and electricals, down 1.7%.
Dickinson said: “The picture in non-food prices is positive for consumers.
“Customers have now had the benefit of four years of non-food price deflation which increased to a 2% fall in prices year-on-year in March.”
Overall shop prices deflated 0.8% year-on-year, marking the shallowest rate of deflation since December 2013.
Shop prices across both food and non-food in total have been falling for 47 consecutive months.
According to Dickinson, ensuring the continuation of value for consumers through tariff-free trade must be at the heart of plans for a smart Brexit.
Nielsen head of retailer and business insight Mike Watkins said: “Inflation is gaining momentum across the economy but in food retailing, the cost price increases being passed onto shoppers in March was lower than the Consumer Price Index.
“We anticipate this trend to continue over the next few months.
“If so, this would be good news for shoppers managing household budgets when prices are rising faster elsewhere and with Easter falling later this year, it may help overall retail sales growths.”