UK inflation rose last month due to higher food prices and lower discounts on household items, official figures said.
According to the National Statistical Office, the Consumer Price Index (CPI) rose from 0.6% in December to 0.7% in January.
This figure was ahead of analysts’ predictions, and many economists predicted 0.5% inflation over a month.
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Jonathan Athow, ONS’s Department of Economic Statistics, said: “Inflation rose slightly as food prices rose in January.
“Household goods also raised prices this year by reducing discounts on items such as bedding and benches.
“But there was a wide range of January sales, along with price cuts for clothing and shoes.”
Food and beverage prices rose 0.6% between December and January, but fell 0.2% year over year.
Furniture and household goods fell 1.5% compared to the 3.3% decline in the same period last year.
Clothing and footwear prices fell 4.9% this month, showing the largest decline between December and January in seven years, down 3.8% annually.
ONS said that about 8% of the price it is normally collected is not available, which is less than in November.
Inflation has stayed below the Bank of England’s 2% target since mid-2019 and neared zero as the economy plummeted last year due to the COVID-19 blockade.
Earlier this month, the central bank said it expects inflation to rise sharply towards the 2% target in the spring as VAT cuts ended last spring and world oil prices rose in line with recovery expectations.
Economists also believe that after a divorce between the UK and the EU, trade agreements will increase the prices of some imported products. This caused the port to be shut down and delayed last month.
However, ONS said it had not seen any evidence that the new Brexit-related tariffs and shipping charges raised consumer prices in January.
The BoE stressed that it would not be in a hurry to begin removing massive stimulus for the economy hit by the coronavirus in the UK, and it would wait for evidence of significant progress toward sustainably meeting the 2% inflation target.
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Yael Selfin, chief economist at KPMG UK, commented on the latest ONS figures: More inflation mix.
“Likewise, Brexit’s impact on the supply chain is likely to affect consumer prices.
“However, overall inflation is unlikely to exceed the Bank of England’s 2% target and can reach 1.7% in 2021 and 1.9% in 2022, allowing longer periods of low interest rates to support economic recovery.
“It’s not uncommon for retailers to cut prices after holidays in January, resulting in negative monthly inflation, but with the renewed closure, some categories were unavailable, leading to lower prices than usual.
“The shift in work and consumption patterns caused by the pandemic has resulted in more discounts on some items, such as clothing, while others, such as furniture, have seen fewer discounts during this period this year.”
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