Inflation stuck at its highest since 2013 in March as weak sterling pushed up food prices

 
Emma Haslett
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Price rises continued to bite in March (Source: Getty)

UK inflation stuck at 2.3 per cent in March as weak sterling continued to hit consumers' wallets, official figures have shown.

The core consumer price index (CPIH) remained at 2.3 per cent in March, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) said today, the same level as in February, when the measure rose to its highest since September 2013.

The figure was pushed up by more expensive food, alcohol and tobacco, as well as clothing and footwear - although air fares and petrol prices helped to keep it steady. That was thanks, in part, to the weakness of sterling since the outcome of June's EU referendum. However, oil has also risen, jumping nearly a quarter since this time last year.

The figure rose above the Bank of England's two per cent target in February for the first time since 2013. Last month the Bank of England switched its core measure of inflation from the consumer prices index (CPI), which has been the main measure of inflation since 2003, to a new index which includes costs incurred by homeowners, dubbed CPIH.

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The news caused sterling to edge up 0.2 per cent against the dollar, to $1.2438, and 0.1 per cent against the euro, to €1.1730.

“Retail sales figures from the British Retail Consortium released overnight showed that the rise in inflation is already starting to bite, with non-food high street sales suffering the worst fall in nearly six years," said Maike Currie, investment director for personal investing at Fidelity International.

"With price rises outstripping wages, we are getting progressively poorer each month. Unsurprisingly, consumers are choosing to instead focus their spending on essential items like food and fuel. Changing shopping habits and a fall in spending should flash amber warning lights for an economy reliant on confident consumers hitting the shops."

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