Food price rises have slowed in the last three months, easing the pressure on cash-strapped shoppers.
Grocery inflation fell to 2.5pc in the 12 weeks to March 25, according to Kantar Worldpanel. This compares with a rate of 2.9pc in the three months to the end of February.
Food price rises have slowed since the start of the year after climbing throughout 2017, peaking at 3.7pc in December. Sterling’s sharp fall in 2016 had made the costs of goods more expensive, but as this recedes in time, the year-on-year inflation number starts to ease.
The most recent figures from the Official for National Statistics put UK-wide inflation at 2.5pc in February, having peaked at 3.1pc in November.
Kantar noted some goods were still prone to fast-rising prices, such as butter and fresh fish, pork and lamb.
The data confirms a separate study by the British Retail Consortium and Nielsen today that found food prices in March fell 0.5pc against February.
Kantar’s closely watched data also revealed that UK supermarkets largely brushed off the effect of the so-called “Beast from the East” at the start of March. Retailers lost around £22m in sales as shoppers visited stores less because of the snowy weather, but stockpiled food ahead of the blizzard.
Total grocery sales grew 2.5pc during the 12-week period measured by Kantar, to reach £26.5bn. Tesco and Morrisons performed the best of the “big four” supermarkets, with each growing sales by 2.4pc. Asda’s sales climbed 1.8pc while Sainsbury’s turnover edged up 0.6pc.
The rapid growth seen at German discounters Aldi and Lidl moderated somewhat, although both chains still boosted sales by more than 10pc each as they continued to open new shops.
Separate data from Nielsen indicated that although grocery sales fell 1pc in the week of the snow storms, they rallied by 12pc the week after, gaining an extra boost from Mother’s Day.
Mike Watkins of Nielsen said the “underlying health” of the grocery sector remained strong and undented by the recent bad weather.
“The big four supermarkets [have] adapted well to changing market conditions and consumer behaviour, and the sector has effectively seen 13 straight months of growth above 2pc,” he said. “This is in stark contrast to non-food retailers who are still adapting to their changing marketplace.”