UK inflation falls in October while furniture prices continue to ease

Furniture prices eased for a fourteenth straight month in October as overall inflation decreased.

According to the latest Office for National for National Statistics (ONS) data, the Consumer Prices Index (CPI) rose by 4.6% in the 12 months to October 2023, down from 6.7% in September. On a monthly basis, CPI did not change in October 2023, compared with a rise of 2.0% in October 2022.

Furniture and furnishing prices rose by 2.1% in October, down from 3.3% in September, while also declining from 13.3% compared to the same month last year. This marks the fourteenth consecutive month of easing price inflation and the lowest rate in well over a year.

The retail price of household furniture decreased to 2.2% in the month from a rise of 3.4%, while also down from 13.7% last year.

Garden furniture prices rose 3.9%, down from 5.1% on last month and down from 14.1% compared to last year.

Carpets and other floorcoverings prices rose 7.7%, down from 9.4% the previous month, while also down from an 8.7% rise last year.

Other household textile prices, including furnishings fabrics, curtains and bedding, saw prices rise by 2.4%, down from 4.7% the previous month, while also down from 5.3% on last year.

Meanwhile, Producer Price Inflation (PPI) saw the rate of furniture output prices, factory gate, rise 5.5% in October on the same month in 2022. The rate was down from the rise of 6.7% in September.

Furniture input prices, material cost of production, were down 3% in October on the same month last year, up from a decline of 2.1% the previous month.

Producer input prices fell by 2.6% in the year to October 2023, down from a revised fall of 2.1% in the year to September 2023. Producer output (factory gate) prices fell by 0.6% in the year to October 2023, down from a revised increase of 0.2% in the year to September 2023. On a monthly basis, producer input prices rose by 0.4% and output prices rose by 0.1% in October 2023.

Commenting on the inflation statistics for October, ONS Chief Economist Grant Fitzner said: “Inflation fell substantially on the month as last year’s steep rise in energy costs has been followed by a small reduction in the energy price cap this year.  

“Food prices were little changed on the month, after rising this time last year, while hotel prices fell, both helping to push inflation to its lowest rate for two years. The cost of goods leaving factories rose on the month. However, the annual growth was slightly negative, led by petroleum and basic metal products.”

Helen Dickinson, Chief Executive of the British Retail Consortium, added: “After a brief pause in September, inflation is once again headed in the right direction, helped by the seventh consecutive month of falling food inflation. Clothing & footwear and furniture inflation also eased as retailers competed to offer the best value for customers ahead of the festive season. Prices for rice, butter and yoghurt all fell on the month, as well for adult footwear, while higher commodity prices and the weaker pound fed through into higher inflation rates for chocolate and olive oil. There remains upcoming challenges: oil prices have been slowly climbing, consumer demand is weakening, and higher wage bills are pushing up business costs. Such pressures would be exacerbated by the planned rise in business rates next year.

“Retailers are working hard to keep prices down for hard pressed customers. Unfortunately, these efforts will be tested by a £480m-a-year increase in business rates from Spring 2024. Unless the Chancellor takes action and freezes business rates at the Autumn Budget, we could see added cost pressures filtering through to consumer prices. Higher rates would also damage the viability of many local communities by reducing the incentive to open new shops and increasing the risk of shop closures.”

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