Rate of inflation increases for the first time this year

Laura Suter

Toys, games, clothing, and some pharmacy items helped push up UK inflation for June – the first increase this year.

The CPI rate rose from 0.5% to 0.6% as lockdown eased and the usual sales of items went out the window, said Laura Suter, personal finance analyst at Manchester investment platform AJ Bell.

She said: “Clothing prices pushed up inflation, as they would usually follow a pattern of lots of buying before Summer sales hit in May and June.

“The coronavirus lockdown trampled on this usual pattern of buying and so, while lots of clothes are on sale at the moment, they haven’t seen the big one-month fall in prices in June they usually would.

“Bizarrely, contact lenses were also a reason behind price rises, along with some other chemist items, such as cough syrup.”

She added: “The inflation rise in June doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s only going to head upwards this year.

“As we see the effects of lockdown easing further we’d expect to see some increases in prices.

“But everyone from the Bank of England to the Office for Budget Responsibility expects inflation to fall further this year, before rebounding slightly next year.

“Once the fall in the oil price and the cut to energy prices from Ofgem’s price cap has filtered through the system, we should see inflation start to meaningfully pick up again.

“However, so much could happen with the pandemic and economy between now and then that even the most avid betting man wouldn’t take on the gamble of predicting where inflation will be this time next year.”

Laura said: “Some doubt has been cast over how accurate the ONS’s inflation figures are, as it still can only collect prices for 85% of the items in its virtual basket.

“A number of leading research groups think inflation is actually running much higher than the official figure, as what we’re all spending our money on has changed dramatically.

“Why include a price for a holiday in the inflation basket, for example, when none of us are going away at the moment?”