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Inflation slows to lowest level in two years

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The latest figures from the Office for National Statistics show the Consumer Prices Index (CPI) was 3.4% in February 2024, down from 4.0% in January, driven by food prices.

While prices are still increasing, it is at a slower pace and this latest deceleration means the cost-of-living is rising at its slowest rate since September 2021 -when it stood at 3.1%.

Although food prices were still rising at 5% in February – this rate was down from a 7% in the first month of 2024.

ONS chief economist, Grant Fitzner, explained: “Food prices were the main driver of the fall, with prices almost unchanged this year compared with a large rise last year, while restaurant and café price rises also slowed. 

“These falls were only partially offset by price rises at the pump and a further increase in rental costs.” 

The news was welcomed by the British Retail Consortium. Kris Hamer, director of insight of the BRC, said: “After a rocky start to 2024, inflation is once again on its way down. February’s figures were driven by falls in food and clothing and footwear, as well as cheaper energy prices. Food inflation fell once again, to its lowest rate since January 2022, as retailers continue to deliver the best service to their customers and communities.

“While today’s inflation figures will be good news for consumers, government must not be complacent. Significant costs on the horizon may put renewed pressure on overall inflation in the near future; these include a 6.7% rise in business rates, and reforms to the packaging levy and electrical takeback schemes, all in the context of the biggest rise to national living wage on record. This will limit investment and drive up costs at a time when many families are still facing a higher cost of living.”

Josh Graham, co-founder of Airtime Rewards, added: “With the clocks about to change and lighter evenings are on the horizon, consumers will soon be able to enjoy spending time on leisure and retail after working hours. 

“While inflation will continue to affect shoppers’ ability to spend, retailers must remain hopeful that consumers will be feeling more confident about their spending into the summer months. However,  brands must continue to think creatively about how they can provide exceptional experiences to their consumer base, and encourage them through their virtual and physical retail doors.” 

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