LONDON (Reuters) – Shop prices in Britain surged last month at the fastest rate in more than a decade and worse is to come, according to a survey published on Wednesday that spelt further bad news for many households caught in a worsening cost-of-living crisis.
The British Retail Consortium said prices in store chains rose by an annual 2.7% in April, accelerating from a 2.1% rise in the 12 months to March and marking the highest rate since September 2011.
“The impact of rising energy prices and the conflict in Ukraine continued to feed through into April’s retail prices,” said BRC chief executive Helen Dickinson.
“Non-food products, particularly furniture, electricals and books, have seen the highest rate of inflation since records began,” Dickinson added, citing new supply disruption from China which has enacted more COVID-19 lockdowns recently.
Food prices rose by 3.5% year-on-year, the biggest rise in just over nine years.
The BRC’s gauge of inflation covers store prices and is not comparable with Britain’s official consumer prices index, a broader gauge of inflation that includes household bills. It hit a 30-year high of 7% in March.
The persistence of high inflation is a key concern for Bank of England officials who are expected to raise interest rates on Thursday to 1%, the highest since 2009.
Last week, Britain’s longest-running gauge of consumer confidence fell to its second-lowest level since records began nearly 50 years ago, with confidence in the outlook for personal finances falling to a new record low.
Supermarket chains Asda and Morrisons said last week they would cut the prices of essential items.
“Retailers will continue to do all they can to keep prices down and deliver value for their customers by limiting price rises and expanding their value ranges, but this will put pressure on them to find cost-savings elsewhere,” Dickinson said.
“Unfortunately, customers should brace themselves for further price rises and a bumpy road ahead.”
(Reporting by Andy Bruce; Editing by William Schomberg)