Retailers will have watched with interest today as the latest figures showed inflation has hit a two-and-a-half year high.

Annual inflation as measured by the Consumer Prices Index hit 1.8% in January, up from 1.6% in December, the ONS revealed.

The concern for retailers is that shoppers will be rattled by higher prices and may rein in spending.

Motor fuel was the main offender.

However food also contributed because prices were unchanged between December and January, having been deflationary the same time last year.

Clothing and footwear offset that – prices in this sector fell by more than they did a year ago.

Though the overall rise was slightly less than expected, inflation this year is still expected to hit around 3% as retailers grapple with the weaker pound.

Elsewhere today, former Co-op boss Richard Pennycook is to join department store group Fenwick as chairman, and fashion giant Next also revealed it has lined up a new chairman. John Lewis blamed the timing of Valentine’s Day on a weekly sales drop and Homebase’s parent company Wesfarmers named its new boss.

We also revealed the top 50 retailers by sales in our annual ranking.

Quote of the day

“I have always admired the company and I am excited about the opportunity to work with the Fenwick family and team to realise the future vision and growth plans for the business.”

– Richard Pennycook on joining Fenwick as chairman

Today in numbers


Combined turnover of the top 50 retailers in 2015/16 financial year


Fall in total sales at department store chain John Lewis last week

Tomorrow’s agenda

Watch out for Bunnings owner Wesfarmers’ interim results.

James Wilmore, news editor