Author Lauren Howells

Food inflation is the “highest for four years” according to new figures released by the Office for National Statistics around UK consumer price inflation.

The new data, released earlier this week, showed that the inflation rate for food and non-alcoholic drinks continued to increase to 4.1%, the highest since September 2013 which could make for an expensive Christmas dinner.

“Higher cost of Christmas dinner”

In response to the release of these figures, the trade association for UK retailers, the British Retail Consortium, said that the data pointed to a “higher cost of Christmas dinner”.

Rachel Lund, Head of Retail Insight & Analytics at the BRC said: “It may be an expensive Christmas dinner this year as a combination of more costly imports and higher world food prices, particularly for dairy products, pushed food price inflation over four percent year on year in October.

“With more of consumers’ incomes being absorbed in spending on food, retailers of non-food products are having to compete harder for business. In a dismal month for non-food sales, shoppers were offered significant discounts, leading to a drop in the inflation rate of goods such as furniture and clothing.”

The 12-month Consumer Prices Index (CPI) rate remained unchanged at 3% in October, in part due to “falling motor fuel and furniture prices” cancelling out the effect of higher food prices.

Price of fish has gone up by 8.5%

Food price increases mean “expensive Christmas dinner”

According to the ONS figures, the price of fish has risen by 8.5% and the cost of milk, cheese and eggs by 4.8%.

Those veggie sides on your Christmas dinner could cost much more than you remember from last year, as the cost of vegetables has gone up by 5.7%. The price of meat has also risen by 3.9%.

Oils and fats have increased by 5.6%.

Coffee, tea and cocoa also saw a significant rise of 8.5% and wine and beer saw price increases of 3.2% and 4.3% respectively.

Sugar, jam, syrups, chocolate and confectionery only saw a 1.2% rise.

‘Real term’ weekly earnings have fallen

Meanwhile, figures released by the ONS on the UK labour market showed that between July and September 2017, there were 32.06 million people in work, 14,000 fewer than for April to June 2017. However, this was still 279,000 more than for a year earlier.

Estimates also showed that ‘real term’ weekly earnings, which are adjusted for price inflation, for UK employees fell by 0.5% excluding bonuses.

The BRC said that this meant that budgets in the run-up to the festive period would be stretched.

Ms Lund continued:

“The lack of wage growth is a concern for both retail and the UK economy. The Bank of England and other forecasters, have consistently expected an imminent pick up in wage growth and been disappointed.”