January shop prices still up on 2018 despite post-Christmas discounting
Shop prices in January were slightly up on a year ago despite heavy post-Christmas discounting, marking the fourth consecutive month of increases, figures show.
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Shop price inflation accelerated from 0.3% in December to 0.4% across the UK, the highest rate since April 2013, according to the British Retail Consortium-Nielsen Shop Price Index.
Food inflation remained steady at 1.5% in January as a slowdown in dairy and meat products prices balanced increases in alcohol and fish.
Deflation of non-food prices continued to slow, with prices falling by 0.3% in January on the back of a 0.4% drop the month before.
The BRC's Northern Ireland director Aodhan Connolly said: "While this is the fourth month of successive shop price inflation and the highest level in five years, there is some easing of global costs on the horizon which should be good news for shoppers. However, we are now 58 days from a no-deal Brexit which could see tariffs, customs, checks and delays, all of which will drive up the cost of the weekly shop as well as causing challenges of availability."
Mr Connolly said that with Northern Ireland already having around half of the discretionary income of households in Britain, "it is imperative that the political games and brinkmanship stop now.
"We need a deal that will protect Northern Ireland households and business.
"We cannot sleepwalk into a no-deal Brexit."
The British Retail Consortium said it expected non-food prices to edge towards inflationary territory for the next couple of months.
BRC chief executive Helen Dickinson said: "Promotions have become the norm in recent years, but it was never going to be possible to continue making seasonal price cuts deeper each year; especially given that the cost of importing many of the goods we buy increased with the post-referendum fall in the pound."
Mike Watkins, head of retailer and business insight at Nielsen, said: "With shoppers looking to make savings on household bills and sentiment on the turn, it's good news that shop price inflation is broadly unchanged this month.
"Intense price competition between food retailers at the start of the year is protecting customers from rising prices," he added.