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Weaker pound takes toll on shoppers with food prices ‘on upward trajectory’

The latest results mark four years of falling prices.

The price of fresh food is continuing to rise as retailers battle against inflationary pressures as a result of the weak pound, figures show.

Fresh food inflation hit 1% year-on-year last month, up from 0.9% in March, with overall shop prices “undoubtedly on an upward trajectory”, according to the latest BRC-Nielsen Shop Price Index.

Food inflation overall slowed slightly to 0.9% from the 1% increase in March, which was the sharpest rise since February 2014.

The April index marks four years of falling prices, but the British Retail Consortium (BRC) said there was “change in sight” following months of decelerating deflation.

Overall shop prices reported deflation of 0.5% in April from the 0.8% fall in March, the shallowest deflation rate since November 2013.

Non-food deflation decelerated to 1.4% from the 2% decline in March, the softest fall since April 2013.

BRC chief executive Helen Dickinson said: “This month’s figures mark the four-year anniversary of falling shop prices as competition in the industry continues to keep a lid on prices for consumers.

“Nevertheless, the rate of deflation has been decelerating month-on-month as retailers battle with inflationary pressures resulting from the impact of the weaker pound on input prices.”

The pausing of food inflation at around 1% was “actually relatively low in the face of input costs that are rising much faster”.

She added: “Prices are undoubtedly on an upward trajectory, which we expect to gradually play out over the course of the year.

“With the squeeze on household incomes tightening, the retail industry expects plans from the next government that puts consumers first in the Brexit negotiations, ensuring that ordinary shoppers are protected from the cost of unwanted new tariffs.”

Mike Watkins, head of retailer and business insight at Nielsen, said: “Shoppers are seeing inflation in travel, fuel and when spending away from home, so retailers are cautious about passing on cost price increases. So there continues to be deflation in shop prices albeit we are already seeing inflation in food.”

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