Prices in UK stores rose at their fastest pace for more than a decade in April as high energy prices and the war in Ukraine pushed up costs for suppliers and retailers, an industry survey showed.
Shop price inflation accelerated to an annual rate of 2.7% in April from 2.1% in March – the highest rate since September 2011, the British Retail Consortium said.
Food prices rose 3.5%, up from 3.3% in March, to hit the highest rate since 2013. Non-food inflation jumped to 2.2% from 1.5% a month earlier.
April’s increase in non-food prices was the strongest since the BRC’s survey started in 2006 and was exacerbated by disruption at Shanghai’s biggest seaport as China imposed a Covid-19 lockdown.
Fresh food prices rose 3.4%, a slight dip from the 3.5% figure in March but still the second highest rate of increase since January 2013. Ambient food inflation strengthened to 3.5% from 3% in March and was the highest rate since January 2013.
Global food prices have reached record highs, driven by the war in Ukraine which has sent the cost of cooking oils and cereals soaring. Inflation was already on the rise before Russia invaded Ukraine, causing hardship for families and a headache for central bankers.
The price increases will add to the cost-of-living crisis facing British households. Living standards are also being squeezed by soaring energy costs and tax rises, threatening consumer confidence and economic growth. Sainsbury’s warned last week that annual profit would fall because of higher costs and a squeeze on households’ disposable income.
Helen Dickinson, the BRC’s chief executive, said: “The impact of rising energy prices and the conflict in Ukraine continued to feed through into April’s retail prices. Non-food products, particularly furniture, electricals and books, have seen the highest rate of inflation since records began.
“Food prices continued to rise, though fresh food inflation slowed as fierce competition between supermarkets resisted price hikes on many everyday essentials.”
Dickinson said consumers should prepare for further price increases to come as rising costs continue to make their way through the supply chain.