Freeze rates to ensure inflation falls

Responding to the latest CPI inflation figures which shows headline inflation falling to 4.2% and food inflation falling 2 percentage points to 10.1%, Helen Dickinson, Chief Executive of the British Retail Consortium, said:

“After a brief pause in September, inflation is once again headed in the right direction, helped by the seventh consecutive month of falling food inflation. Clothing & footwear and furniture inflation also eased as retailers competed to offer the best value for customers ahead of the festive season. Prices for rice, butter and yoghurt all fell on the month, as well for adult footwear, while higher commodity prices and the weaker pound fed through into higher inflation rates for chocolate and olive oil. There remains upcoming challenges: oil prices have been slowly climbing, consumer demand is weakening, and higher wage bills are pushing up business costs. Such pressures would be exacerbated by the planned rise in business rates next year.

“Retailers are working hard to keep prices down for hard pressed customers. Unfortunately, these efforts will be tested by a £480m-a-year increase in business rates from Spring 2024. Unless the Chancellor takes action and freezes business rates at the Autumn Budget, we could see added cost pressures filtering through to consumer prices. Higher rates would also damage the viability of many local communities by reducing the incentive to open new shops and increasing the risk of shop closures.”