April 2, 2019 / 11:11 PM / 18 days ago

UK shop prices rise at fastest rate in six years - British Retail Consortium

FILE PHOTO: Shoppers walk along Oxford Street in central London, February 22, 2015. REUTERS/Neil Hall

LONDON (Reuters) - Shop prices in Britain recorded the biggest rise in six years in March, mainly due to a sharp increase the cost of non-perishable food, the British Retail Consortium said on Wednesday.

Prices in shops rose by an annual 0.9 percent in March compared with 0.7 percent in February, the highest inflation rate since March 2013.

The driving force behind this increase was an acceleration in food prices, which rose 2.5 percent on the year last month compared with a rate of 1.6 percent the month before.

Non-perishable food prices rose at the highest rate since February 2013, up 3.4 percent on the year - a sharp increase on February’s rate of 1.5 percent.

A global rise in cereals prices and unfavourable conditions for onions, potatoes and cabbages in Britain last year had pushed up wholesale prices, the BRC said.

With continuing Brexit uncertainty, upward risks to inflation would persist, the BRC’s chief executive, Helen Dickinson, said.

“A chaotic no-deal Brexit ... would lead to higher prices and less choice on the shelves,” she warned.

Non-food prices were unchanged from March 2018, slowing from a 0.2 percent increase in February.

Online retailers continued to squeeze down clothing and electrical prices, while there were increases elsewhere.

Reporting by Rachel Cordery, editing by David Milliken

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