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February drop takes UK food price inflation to lowest level in almost two years | retail

February drop takes UK food price inflation to lowest level in almost two years |  retail


Plunging energy costs and a price war between UK supermarkets have slowed food inflation to its lowest level for nearly two years, giving a boost to households trying to cope with stretching budgets.

Prices of meat, fish and fruit fell in February, pushing food prices up 5% from 6.1% in January last year and the lowest since May 2022, according to the British Retail Consortium (BRC) Store Price Index.

Although figures show prices are still rising, they are well below the double-digit rises consumers have consistently faced over the past two years as rising energy prices have fueled rampant inflation.

According to the index, food prices last month fell 0.1% compared to the previous month, marking the first monthly decline since September of last year.

BRC chief executive Helen Dickinson said this was happening because retailers were easing input costs for energy and fertilizer while competing fiercely to drive down prices.

A sharp fall in wholesale gas prices has had an impact on household energy bills, with industry regulator Ofgem announcing last week that price caps would fall by 12% (238 to 1,690) from April. Meanwhile, there are growing signs that large supermarkets are stepping up price competition.

The cost-of-living crisis has strained retailers as they attempt to maintain profits while attracting customers due to rising household costs and shopping budgets.

Last week, Morrisons launched a campaign offering the same or lower prices as discounters Aldi and Lidl, mirroring similar marketing efforts by Tesco, Asda and Sainsburys.

Overall, store price inflation eased from 2.9% in January to 2.5% in February. Non-food prices rose 1.3% year-on-year and 0.7% in January.

Richard Walker, chairman of frozen food chain Iceland, said cost pressures had eased in its supply chain and sales were strong after cutting prices on products such as pizza, beef burgers and ready meals.

Across manufacturing, cost pressures are easing and the situation is starting to lift, Walker said. We're seeing the biggest declines faster than wholesale prices can drop to stay ahead of the game. Providing great value to your customers is more important than ever.

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BRC figures show prices for furniture, electronics and health and beauty products rose, but clothing fell as retailers tried to lure shoppers with promotions.

Dickinson said while easing inflation was good news for shoppers, he warned prices of non-food items could rise due to increased delivery costs due to disruptions in the Red Sea, and reiterated his call for government support for retailers' business rates bills. Budget for next month.

Separate data from the CBI showed retail sales in the year to February fell at a moderate pace after a sharp decline the previous month. The quarterly survey predicts the pace of sales decline will accelerate in the coming months.




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