UK inflation slows again as furniture prices continue to ease in August

Furniture prices remained high during August but eased for a twelfth straight month as overall inflation continued to slow.

According to the latest Office for National for National Statistics (ONS) data, the Consumer Prices Index (CPI) rose by 6.7% in the 12 months to August 2023, down from 6.8% in July. On a monthly basis, CPI rose by 0.3% in August 2023, compared with a rise of 0.5% in August 2022.

Furniture and furnishing prices rose by 4.1% in August, down from 5.6% in July, while also declining from 15.2% compared to the same month last year. This marks the twelfth consecutive month of easing price inflation and the lowest rate in well over a year.

The retail price of household furniture decreased to 4.2% in the month from a rise of 6%, while also down from 15.6% last year.

Garden furniture prices rose 5.8%, up from 0.2% on last month but down from 16.3% compared to last year.

Carpets and other floorcoverings prices increased 7.6%, down from 9.9% the previous month, while also down from an 8.1% rise last year.

Other household textile prices, including furnishings fabrics, curtains and bedding, saw prices rise by 4%, down from 4.7% the previous month, while also down from 6.2% on last year.

Meanwhile, Producer Price Inflation (PPI) saw the rate of furniture output prices, factory gate, rise 6.9% in August on the same month in 2022. The rate was down from the rise of 8.9% in July.

Furniture input prices, material cost of production, were down 1.8% in August on the same month last year, up from a decline of 1.7% the previous month.

Producer input prices fell by 2.3% in the year to August 2023, up from a revised fall of 3.2% in the year to July 2023. Producer output (factory gate) prices fell by 0.4% in the year to August 2023, up from a revised fall of 0.7% in the year to July 2023. On a monthly basis, producer input prices rose by 0.4% and output prices rose by 0.2% in August 2023.

Commenting on the inflation figures for August, ONS Chief Economist Grant Fitzner said: “The rate of inflation eased slightly this month driven by falls in the often-erratic cost of overnight accommodation and air fares, as well as food prices rising by less than the same time last year.

“This was partially offset by an increase in the price of petrol and diesel compared with a steep decline at this time last year, following record prices seen in July 2022. Core inflation has slowed this month by more than the headline rate, driven by lower services prices.”

Helen Dickinson, Chief Executive of the British Retail Consortium, added: “Food inflation eased for the fifth month in a row, underpinning the hard work by retailers to bring costs down. Fierce competition between supermarkets has helped to bring down prices for many essentials including bread, butter, milk and fish. There was also good news for households as inflation levels for furniture and home appliances fell, though many homeowners will be looking nervously towards tomorrow’s interest rates decision by the Bank of England.

“With headline inflation still above 6% and at risk of being pushed back up from rising oil prices, retailers are in line for an increase of more than £400m-a-year in their business rates bill, determined by September’s CPI. This announcement would put further pressure on consumer prices, just as inflation is beginning to come under control. Last week, 44 retail leaders called on the Chancellor to freeze the business rates multiplier, which would otherwise hold back investment, including in new shops and jobs.”

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