Inflation at UK clothing stores rises as supply costs rise

The British Retail Consortium says it will be impossible to protect consumers from rising product prices in the future as raw material prices, energy prices and transport costs continue to rise and fuel the inflation in retail stores, including clothing vendors.

Inflation in non-food retail stores, which includes clothing, accelerated to 0.9% in January from a 0.2% decline in December according to data from the British Retail Consortium (BRC), a faster than 12-month growth rate and six-month average price changes of -1.3% and -0.4%, respectively.

Data released by UK retail body BRC and market research firm NielsenIQ shows UK shop price inflation in January 2022 is above the 12-month average decline of 0.6 and the six-month average price increase of 0.1% and marks the highest rate of inflation since December 2012.

BRC chief executive Helen Dickinson points out: “January saw retail price inflation nearly double, driven by a sharp rise in non-food inflation.”

She explains that rising prices in shops are playing into wider inflation in the UK, putting the cost of living at the top of the political agenda. Many households will struggle to absorb the additional costs, with more on the horizon.

With supply costs rising, it is inevitable that retail prices will continue to follow in the future, she adds.

While Mike Watkins, NielsenIQ’s Head of Retail and Business Intelligence, adds, “Rising energy and travel costs are now impacting disposable incomes and are likely to reduce the willingness to spend consumers.”

He explains that NielsenIQ research shows that nearly half of all households say their most important concern right now is the rising cost of living. This means stores will have to encourage cash-strapped customers to continue shopping and despite in-store price increases, retailers are responding by keeping price increases as low as possible for as long as possible.

Inflation is also having a major effect in the United States, with the American Apparel & Footwear Association urging Biden to tackle rising apparel inflation rates ahead of Christmas after the announcement that the US price index to consumption had reached a 40-year high of 6.8%.

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Anne G. Cash