UK inflation driven down by discounting from clothing retailers
Steep discounting by clothing retailers pushed down UK inflation in November as the second national coronavirus lockdown in England and tough restrictions across the country kept consumers away from the high street.
The Office for National Statistics (ONS) said the consumer prices index (CPI) fell to 0.3% in November from 0.7% a month earlier, with retailers slashing the price of clothing and footwear amid the second wave of the coronavirus crisis. City economists had forecast an inflation rate of 0.6%
It comes as retailers across the country are under renewed pressure as the rapid growth in infections discourages consumers from heading to the shops and as lockdown restrictions were imposed in England, alongside tough measures in Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales.
Consumers increased their spending during England’s four-week lockdown, but did so online, according to figures from the British Retail Consortium, as footfall on the high street plummeted.
The ONS said clothes prices would usually go up in November in the run-up to Christmas. However, the pandemic has drastically altered usual spending trends, with the British economy struggling to escape the deepest recession for more than 300 years.
Falling food and drink prices also dragged down the inflation rate by the most since 2017, driven by goods such as vegetables and confectionary. These were partially offset by rising prices for games, toys and hobbies.
Jonathan Athow, the deputy national statistician for economic statistics at the ONS, said: “With significant restrictions in place across the UK, inflation slowed, predominantly due to clothing and food prices. Also, after several months of buoyant growth, secondhand car prices fell back a little.”
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