Annual shop price annual inflation accelerated to +0.8% in December, up from +0.3% in November, according to the latest BRC-NielsenIQ Shop Price Index. Following November’s rise, this was the second time prices have risen since May 2019, and was driven by food inflation – non-food deflation accelerated to -0.2% in December compared to the decline of -0.1% in November.
Helen Dickinson OBE, chief executive of the BRC, says: “Consumers may have noticed that their Christmas shop became a little more expensive in December. Not only did prices rise, but did so at a faster rate, especially in food. Food prices were falling earlier on in 2021, but the acute labour shortages across supply chains, amongst other factors, led to the year ending with a notable increase – for example, fresh food saw the largest rate of inflation in almost a decade. YoY non-food products were deflationary, but prices rose across the board on the previous month.
“The trajectory for consumer prices is very clear – they will continue to rise, and at a faster rate. Retailers can no longer absorb all the cost pressures arising from more expensive transportation, labour shortages, and rising commodity and global food prices. Consumers will already be harder pressed this year, with rising energy bills, the looming hike in national insurance, and more expensive mortgages. Government should relieve some of these costs by looking for long-term solutions for resolvable issues such as labour shortages.”
Mike Watkins, head of retailer and business insight, NielsenIQ, adds: “After a challenging Christmas period, consumers are facing higher energy, travel and, for some, mortgage costs, and the underlying price inflation in retail may only make it more difficult to entice shoppers to spend in January. But it is weak consumer confidence and uncertainty around the pandemic rather than shop price inflation which will have the biggest impact on demand at the start of the year.”