Rising food prices drove up inflation in January during the toughest coronavirus lockdown measures since the first wave of the pandemic. The Office for National Statistics said the consumer prices index rose to 0.7% in January – from 0.6% a month earlier – as shops including food retailers and household goods stores pushed up their prices with less discounting this year on items such as beds and settees. However, there were also widespread January sales as the closure of non-essential shops forced retailers to cut their prices to sell stock where possible, including for clothing and footwear. Britain’s economy is expected to have plunged into reverse at the start of the year after narrowly escaping a double-dip recession, following the worst annual fall in gross domestic product (GDP) for more than 300 years in 2020. With business and social life disrupted by the pandemic, inflation has fallen below the Bank of England’s target rate of 2% amid depressed levels of demand for goods and services. However, analysts said the inflation rate was likely to rise in the coming months, partly because the gauge measuring the annual growth of consumer prices would no longer be compared with pre-pandemic levels. That, and a 9% rise in the ...read more...