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Food prices still rising faster than wages although overall rate of retail inflation falls | UK News

Food prices are still rising faster than wages, new data has shown.

The British Retail Consortium (BRC) reported overall food inflation rose 11.5% in August, down from 13.4% in July.

But annual growth in average total pay only grew by 8.2% from April to June, according to the latest data available from the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

Fresh food inflation fell to 11.6% in August, down from 14.3% in July.

Inflation for ambient foods – items stored at room temperature – fell from 12.3% in July to 11.3% in August.

Meanwhile the BRC said price rises in shops have slowed to their lowest rates in October last year but keep going up significantly.

Prices rose 6.9% in the year to August, down from 8.4% in July.

While retail inflation has dropped it does not mean items are getting cheaper, just that prices increased more slowly between September 2022 and August 2023 than they did between August 2022 and July 2023.

The BRC showed the main reason retail inflation dropped was because fresh food prices rose less rapidly.

Inflation for non-food items was unchanged at 4.7%, the BRC said.

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‘Better news for consumers’

“Better news for consumers as shop price inflation in August eased to its lowest level since October 2022,” the consortium’s chief executive Helen Dickinson said.

“This was driven by falling food inflation, particularly for products such as meat, potatoes and some cooking oils.

“These figures would have been lower still had the government not increased alcohol duties earlier this month.”

She said key components of toiletries and cosmetics had become cheaper which helped ease price rises in these categories.

Inflation for clothing and footwear increases

But inflation for clothing and footwear increased as the summer sales came to a close.

“While inflation is on course to continue to fall thanks to retailers’ efforts, there are supply chain risks for retailers to navigate,” Ms Dickinson added.

“Russia’s withdrawal from the Black Sea Grain Initiative and its targeting of Ukrainian grain facilities, as well as poor harvests across Europe and beyond, could serve as potential roadblocks to lower inflation.

“A potential £400m hike to business rates bills from next April would certainly jeopardise efforts to tackle inflation unless the chancellor intervenes.”

Real wages see record plunge over three months | Business News

Regular pay has seen the biggest plunge in more than 20 years when rising prices are taken into account, the Office for National Statistics has said.

Real wages – a measure of regular wage growth when inflation is factored in – fell 3.7% from March to May, the ONS said.

This was the worst year-on-year drop since records began in 2001.

“Following recent increases in inflation, pay is now clearly falling in real terms both including and excluding bonuses,” said David Freeman, head of labour market and household statistics for the ONS.

UK households are seeing their spending power eroded by soaring fuel and energy costs.

Real wages took a 3.5% hit in the year to May – an improvement on April’s figure of 4.5%, but still worse than any other time on record.

The employment rate remains below pre-pandemic levels despite increasing by 0.4 percentage points to 75.9%.

While the number of people neither working nor looking for a job is now falling, it remains well up on where it was before COVID-19 hit.

“With demand for labour clearly still very high, unemployment fell again, employment rose and there was another record low for redundancies,” Mr Freeman said.

DWP Minister Julie Marson said it was “fantastic news” that the UK now has two million more women in work than in 2010, adding that the latest OECD data shows the country has the second highest level of women in work in the G7.

“As we grow the economy, it’s vital we make sure everyone can find a job that’s right for them – and importantly that they can progress in work,” she said.

“That’s why we’re keeping up our support to get people at any age or career stage into work, including a new multi-million pound offer to help the over 50s get into, and remain in employment.”