Expensive shopping

Rapidly rising food prices, particularly for fresh produce, are behind the fastest rise in UK shop prices in over a decade, Sky News reports.

Retail price annual inflation accelerated to 1.8 per cent in February, up from 1.5 per cent in January - the highest rate of inflation since November 2011, Sky News said, citing figures from the BRC-NielsenIQ Shop Price Index show.

Fresh produce prices have been impacted by poor harvests globally, its report said.

Helen Dickinson, chief executive of the British Retail Consortium, told Sky News: 'Price rises will be unwelcome news for households who already face falling disposable income because of the rise in national insurance and energy price caps.

'Retailers continue to face cost pressures from higher shipping rates, with crude oil prices having almost doubled over the last year. Other pressures include labour shortages, commodity price increases, and rising energy prices.'

While food inflation remained unchanged at 2.7 per cent in February, it remains above the 12 and six-month average price growth rates of 0.7 per cent and 1.6 per cent respectively and is at its highest rate since September 2013, Sky News said.

Dickinson added: 'Retailers are going to great lengths to mitigate against these price rises and support their customers, for example many supermarkets have expanded their value ranges for food. Unfortunately, there are limits to the costs that retailers can absorb.'