UK store price inflation hit its highest rate in at least 18 years in May, although the pace of food price growth moderated marginally, according to new sector data.
The trade body said on Tuesday the cost of store goods rose at an annual rate of 9 percent last month, up from 8.8 percent in April, marking the fastest increase since British Retail Consortium (BRC) registrations began in 2005.
However, food price inflation slowed slightly to 15.4 percent in May, down from an all-time record high of 15.7 percent in the previous month.
Consumer price growth has accelerated since the Russian invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, driving up energy and food prices globally.
Helen Dickinson, chief executive of BRC, said, “While store price inflation has risen slightly . . . households will welcome food inflation starting to ease.”
It added that the slowdown in rising food prices was largely driven by lower energy and commodities costs that began filtering through supply chains and reduced inflation in some commodities including butter, milk, fruit and fish.
But chocolate and coffee prices rose on the back of rising global costs for these commodities. This pushed the inflation rate of ambient foods — items that can be stored at room temperature — to 13.1 percent in May, from 12.9 percent in the previous month.
Food inflation affects the poorest households the most as they tend to spend a larger percentage of their budget on necessities.
To mitigate the rising cost of living, shoppers have been looking for seasonal promotions and loyalty scheme offers at the supermarket, said Mike Watkins, head of retail and business at NielsenIQ, which helps compile the data.
Data published last week showed food sales volumes were down 2.7 percent from pre-coronavirus levels in March, as consumers cut back on purchases in response to higher prices.
The BRC also reported that non-food inflation rose to 5.8 per cent in May, up from 5.5 per cent in the previous month, despite outlets offering deep discounts on shoes, books and home entertainment.
BRC data indicated that the price growth of food and non-alcoholic beverages remains high.
In April, official food inflation was 19.1 percent, down only slightly from a 45-year high of 19.2 percent the previous month, according to ONS data released last week.
Overall inflation fell less-than-expected to 8.7 percent from 10.1 percent in the previous month, boosting expectations that the Bank of England will raise rates further to curb inflation.