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Food inflation rockets to record 13.3%, price index shows

Food inflation has accelerated to record levels as many households suffered a “challenging Christmas” due to soaring prices, according to new figures.

The price of food for shoppers jumped to 13.3% in December, from 12.4% in the previous month.

It came as the latest BRC-NielsenIQ shop price index showed a slight sign of respite for cash-strapped shoppers, as overall shop price inflation eased slightly to 7.3% for the month.

It pulled back marginally from 7.4% in November but remains close to record highs.

Helen Dickinson, chief executive of the British Retail Consortium (BRC), said: “It was a challenging Christmas for many households across the UK.

“Not only did the cold snap force people to spend more on their energy bills, but the prices of many essential foods also rose as reverberations from the war in Ukraine continued to keep high the cost of animal feed, fertiliser and energy.”

Fresh food inflation leapt to 15% for the month from 14.3% in November, while the price of ambient food, such as pasta and tinned food, increased 11% in December against the same month a year earlier.

However, non-food shops, such as fashion or homeware retailers, saw inflation slow to 4.4% in December from 4.8% a month earlier due to price cuts.

Ms Dickinson added: “Non-food price rises eased as some retailers used discounting to shed excess stock built up during the disruptions to supply chains, meaning some customers were able to bag bargain gifts.

“The combined impact was that price increases overall plateaued, with the reduction in non-food inflation offsetting the higher food prices.”

Mike Watkins, head of retailer and business insight at NielsenIQ, said: “Consumer demand is likely to be weak in Q1 due to the impact of energy price increases and for many, Christmas spending bills starting to arrive.

“So the increase in food inflation is going to put further pressure on household budgets and it’s unlikely that there will be any improvement in the consumer mind-set around personal finances in the near term.

“With shoppers having less money to spend on discretionary retail, having paid for their essential groceries, there will be little to stimulate demand across the non-food channels.”