Shop prices fall in March as non-food retail struggles

Shop prices BRC-Nielsen shop price index
Shop prices continued to fall in March
// Shop prices dropped in March as non-food retailers struggled to lure shoppers
// This marked the fastest rate of decline since May 2020

Shop prices fell by 2.4 per cent in March, the same rate of decline as in February as non-food retailers attempted to lure shoppers in amid lockdown.

This is below the 12- and 6-month average price decreases of 1.8 per cent and 2.0 per cent, respectively.

Non-food prices fell at a rate of four per cent, compared with 3.9 per cent in February as shoppers turned to essential items, according to the BRC-Nielsen shop price index.

READ MORE: Retail sales continue to fall sharply in March – CBI

This marked the fastest rate of decline since May 2020 and was below the 12- and six-month average price declines which both stood at 3.5 per cent.

Food inflation rose 0.3 per cent in March, buoyed by ambient food prices, which were up 1.7 per cent, compared with a 1.6 per cent rise the previous month.

“Retail prices fell again in March as the third consecutive month of lockdown led many non-food retailers, especially clothing, to heavily discount their products,” BRC chief executive Helen Dickinson said.

“Low demand and intense competition online will help thrifty consumers find the bargains they are looking for.

“Prices of fashion and footwear have seen double-digit declines in 11 of the past 12 months, highlighting how those worst hit have been working hard to tempt consumer spending.

“While food prices inched up slightly compared to last year, they remain significantly below long-term averages, as grocers fiercely protect their market shares.

Nielsen head of insight Mike Watkins added: “With consumer spend limited by pandemic restrictions, non-food retailers are keeping any supply-side driven price increases to a minimum and in some cases are reducing prices, to encourage shoppers to maintain spending in the run-up to Easter.

“Whilst food retailers have seen top-line sales grow at around nine per cent since the start of the year, we are now lapping the extreme comparatives of March last year and shop price inflation in food still remains very low and less than CPI.”

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