UK consumer price inflation quickens in March

An official data shows

22 April, 2021 12:00 AM printer

LONDON: Britain’s annual inflation rate accelerated in March, official data showed Wednesday, stoking analyst fears of spiking prices when the nation emerges from the pandemic.

The Consumer Prices Index rate advanced to 0.7 percent last month on rising prices for clothing and motor fuel, the Office for National Statistics said in a statement.

That was slightly short of forecasts for a 0.8-percent increase, but a sizeable jump from the 0.4 percent seen in February, reports AFP.

The news nevertheless fanned fears that global inflation could spike this year when Britain and other nations emerge from the deadly Covid-19 health emergency.

“The UK has reached a turning point in its economic reaction to the pandemic where price growth is now on an upward trajectory, and should remain so for some time to come,” warned portfolio manager Paul Craig at Quilter Investors.

“From here, inflation may tick markedly higher if the steady drip of consumer spending morphs into a waterfall as lockdown restrictions are lifted and households spend some of their accumulated pandemic savings.” British Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s government is targeting a phased reopening on the back of a successful vaccine drive, with non-essential retailers reopening for business last week.

Analysts remain fearful that massive global Covid stimulus, combined with pent-up consumer demand, could trigger soaring inflation and spark global interest rate hikes that damage any nascent recovery.

Yet inflation had unexpectedly declined in February as coronavirus restrictions had sparked heavy discounting for clothing and footwear.

The ONS added Wednesday that discounting was still unusually high in March.