Period Covered: 04-08 March 2019

  •  Shop Price inflation accelerated in March to 0.9%, up from 0.7% in February. This is the highest inflation rate since March 2013.
  • Non-Food prices were at the same level as March 2018. In February, they were 0.2% higher than the previous year.
  • Food inflation accelerated in March to 2.5%, up from 1.6% in February. This is the highest inflation rate November 2013.
  • Fresh Food inflation accelerated to 1.9% in March, up from 1.7% in February. This is the highest inflation rate since October 2017.
  • Ambient Food inflation picked up in March, prices increasing by 3.4%, a significant increase on February’s rate of 1.5%. This is the highest inflation rate since February 2013.
  • Global commodity prices and weather events pushed food prices up. Rises in global cereal prices pushed Bread & Cereal prices up. Last year’s bad weather meant that a number of UK crops, such as onions, potatoes, and cabbage, saw much lower yields, and, as a result, these products are seeing now significant price increases.
  •  Within the Non-Food category, technological developments within the Clothing and Electrical sectors meant that prices for these goods have been on a downward trend for the past several years. However, price decreases in these sectors were offset by increases in DIY, Health & Beauty, Books and Furniture prices. In these sectors, cost pressures built up in the supply chain, either from high oil prices last year, delayed impact of the depreciation, or regulatory changes (such as minimum wage increases or automatic pension enrolment), are now being filtered through into final consumer prices.  

Helen Dickinson OBE, Chief Executive, British Retail Consortium:
“March saw Shop Price inflation rise to its highest level in six years, driven primarily by a sharp spike in non-perishable food inflation. Increases in global commodity prices and adverse weather events put upward pressures on the wholesale prices of many foodstuffs which, coupled with rises in the cost of alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages, pushed food inflation from 1.6% in February to 2.5% in March. 

“Nonetheless, the bigger threat to food inflation remains the risks of a chaotic no deal Brexit, which would lead to higher prices and less choice on the shelves. In order to avoid this scenario, parliamentarians from all parties must find a compromise that can command a majority in the House of Commons.”

Mike Watkins, Head of Retailer and Business Insight, Nielsen:
"The upwards pressure on pricing continues across food retailing and a key driver this month was inflation in ambient food and drink. With shoppers looking to stretch their budget for the weekly grocery shop this will not help volume growth, which has been slowing since the start of the year. For many high street fashion, home and outdoor retailers prices are not increasing, so good news for shoppers as the end of season ranges sell through."