Shop price inflation increased to 2.5% in April, up from 2.4% in March.

Food inflation jumped to 4.7% last month, compared with 4% in March. The British Retail Consortium-Nielsen Shop Price Index said that rises in commodity costs pushed up prices, but that food inflation was also likely to have been driven by the timing of Easter promotions relative to last year.

Perishable food stock, which is often subject to heavy discounting following Easter weekend, would have been included in last year’s April figures, but not this year, meaning prices overall were higher.

Non-food inflation slowed to 1.2% compared with 1.5% the month before. BRC director general Stephen Robertson said retailers’ efforts to generate sales with Easter discounts were “key to holding back prices on non-food goods”.

Robertson said: “Clothing, footwear and electricals prices were actually down on a year ago, and those prices fell faster than the previous month. 

“But the upward pressures on food prices, which eased in March, bit back in April. The cost of world commodities, including sugar and wheat, rose even more quickly, inevitably working through to some shop prices.

“The consolation for customers is that there is a mass of offers to be had and the fact that 40% of the groceries being bought are on promotion shows that customers are taking up those offers in a big way.”  

BRC pointed out that at 2.5%, the BRC-Nielsen Shop Price Index remains “significantly” below CPI - the official measure of inflation - “demonstrating retailers’ commitment to keeping prices low and stable for consumers”.

It added: “Retailers are working increasingly hard to ease the burden on squeezed consumer budgets, by absorbing the effects of consumption taxes and the volatility of the supply chain.”