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Falling furniture and food prices sees inflation reach 2% target in May

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UK inflation hit the Bank of England’s 2% target last month – the first time in three years – with the largest fall coming from food prices.

While the latest figures from the Office for National Statistics saw prices of food and non-alcoholic beverages rise by 1.7% in the year to May 2024, this was down from 2.9% in the year to April. The May figure is also the lowest annual rate since October 2021.

Additionally, the food price rate has eased for the 14th consecutive month from a recent high of 19.2% in March 2023, the highest annual rate seen for over 45 years.

The figures from ONS also showed prices of furniture and household goods overall rose by 0.2% between April and May 2024, compared with a larger monthly rise of 1.1% a year ago. On an annual basis, prices fell by 1.8% in the year to May, compared with a fall of 0.9% in the year to April. The annual rate in May 2024 was the lowest since December 2000.

Kris Hamer, director of insight of the British Retail Consortium, said: “The country will breathe a sigh of relief as inflation hits the Bank of England’s target of 2%. Falling energy prices continue to be the main driver behind the fall in the headline rate however, a lower inflation rate in clothing and furniture also contributed. Food inflation fell the fourteenth month in a row, and those with a sweet tooth will be happy to see that the price of chocolate and confectionary products fell on the month.

“Hitting the 2% target is welcome news, however, it is vital that inflationary progress is not taken for granted by the next government. Retailers are working hard to limit price increases for their customers, and the next administration must play their part in reducing cost pressures on retailers and the customers they serve. Addressing key costs such as the business rates burden, which leads to customers paying a higher price at the till, must be a priority for whoever forms the next government.”

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