UK inflation rises as furniture prices ease again in February

Furniture prices remained high during February but eased for a six straight month as overall inflation ‘ticked up’.

According to the latest Office for National for National Statistics (ONS) data, the Consumer Prices Index (CPI) rose by 10.4% in the 12 months to February 2023, up from 10.1% in January. On a monthly basis, CPI rose by 1.1% in February 2023, compared with a rise of 0.8% in February 2022.

Furniture and furnishing prices rose by 10% in February, down from 11.1% in January, while also declining from 14.4% compared to the same month last year. This marks the sixth consecutive month of easing price inflation and the lowest rate in well over a year.

The retail price of household furniture decreased to 10.4% in the month from 11.4%, while down from 14.7% last year.

Garden furniture prices stood at a rate of 10.8%, down from 11.9% on last month but up from 8.4% compared to last year.

Carpets and other floorcoverings prices were at a rate of 10.4%, down from 12.2% the previous month and also rising from 8.7% last year.

Other household textile prices, including furnishings fabrics, curtains and bedding, saw a rate of 4.7%, consistent with the previous month, while down from 5% on last year.

Meanwhile, Producer Price Inflation (PPI) saw the rate of furniture output prices, factory gate, rise 10.6% in February on the same month in 2022. The rate decreased from a rise of 12.9% in January.

Furniture input prices, material cost of production, were up 7.9% in February on the same month last year, while also up from a rise of 7.8% the previous month.

Producer input prices rose by 12.7% in the 12 months to February 2023, down from 14.7% in the year to January 2023. Producer output (factory gate) prices rose by 12.1% in the 12 months to February 2023, down from 13.5% in the year to January 2023. On a monthly basis, producer input prices decreased by 0.1% and output prices decreased by 0.3% in February 2023.

Commenting on the inflation figures for February, ONS Chief Economist Grant Fitzner said: “Inflation ticked up in February mainly driven by rising alcohol prices in pubs and restaurants following discounting in January. Food and non-alcoholic drink prices rose to their highest rate in over 45 years with particular increases for some salad and vegetable items as high energy costs and bad weather across parts of Europe led to shortages and rationing. These were partially offset by falls in the cost of motor fuel, where the annual inflation rate has eased for seven consecutive months.” 

Helen Dickinson, Chief Executive of the British Retail Consortium, added: “UK households continued to be squeezed by inflation driven by food prices and household bills. The energy crisis, caused by the war in Ukraine, has pushed up gas and electricity bills for producers, retailers and households. Food remained one of the strongest contributors to overall inflation as the high price of animal feed and fertiliser has driven up the price of many staples, while the weaker pound made importing products such as vegetables from Europe more expensive.”

“While inflation is expected subside later this year, prices are likely to remain elevated as the higher costs throughout supply chains become baked in. Retailers are committed to doing everything they can to keep the price of essentials low through expanding value ranges and offering discounts for vulnerable groups. Against this backdrop, Government must do more to limit one of the biggest drags to retail investment, which is oncoming regulatory burdens heading down the track, or risk a crash in business investment and further inflationary pressures.”

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