Food rises offset by non-food fall
Shop prices increased 0.49 per cent between February and March, slightly up on the 0.29 per cent rise between January and February, according to the British Retail Consortium's Shop Price Index (SPI).

Food inflation is still the main driver of shop price inflation, moving from a fall of 0.09 per cent in February to a rise of 0.51 per cent in March.

However, non-food prices continue to keep the SPI significantly lower than the official Government measures of inflation, remaining flat at 0.48 per cent month on month.

For the second consecutive month, the clothing index showed a month-on-month rise, increasing 0.11 per cent between February and March, lower than the 0.27 per cent rise from January to February. The smaller month-on-month rise came as retailers held mid-season Sales and continued discounting winter ranges, mainly men's and women's coats.

In furniture, the index showed a rise of 2.66 per cent between February and March, as the majority of sales and discounting ended. This is the highest month-on-month rise since the index began in December 2005, reflecting the price-led competitiveness of this sector.

The electricals index indicated a fall of 0.44 per cent between February and March, larger than the 0.21 per cent fall between January and February. This is reflective of the tough environment for big-ticket items, as discounting was still evident, especially with flat and HD TVs.

In DIY and hardware, the index revealed a rise of 0.08 per cent in March, far lower than the rise of 1.93 per cent in February, when prices showed the largest month-on-month growth since records began.

BRC director-general Kevin Hawkins said: 'With food inflation easing off and deflation in non-food showing no signs of abating, there is still no real inflationary pressure coming from the high street. Although the full impact of the recent interest rate rises on consumer spending has yet to be felt, disposable incomes are clearly under strong pressure and consumer confidence is falling.'