Is UK inflation going to keep falling?
The dip in the overall rate of inflation in the year to November should be the start of a few months of falls. October’s four-decade high now looks to have been the peak. But inflation will remain very high for months to come.
Even talk of a moderation in the rate of price rises seems out of kilter with everyday experience. On our visits around the country, everybody is feeling the sharpest of pinches, and most people seem to be willing to talk about it.
I was at the Winter Wonderland fair and ice rink in Reading testing the rather cold ground. They think they have benefitted from offering free entrance, but the owner Billy tells me there are signs of a profound squeeze everywhere.
People paying for the rides with credit cards and looking for cheaper options on food and drink. Meanwhile, Billy’s family are stepping in to help staff the fair as other costs sky rocket.
“Fuel has doubled over the past 12 months, but that’s slowly creeping down. Gas prices have nearly tripled, and there’s no sign that’s coming down. The food is staying staying sky high… The drinks from the breweries that’s going up,” he tells me.
Apart from for car fuel, none of the punters say they can feel much of a change.
Even in the latest inflation figures, food price rises reached new 45-year highs of 16.5%, as is evident in the shops. But it’s not just petrol prices contributing to a slowing of the inflation rate. Other commodity prices and transport costs are on their way down.
The fall in the price of used cars – one of the first indicators of the inflationary pressures last summer – is now accelerating. Globally, there are signs of a peak, especially in the US. The UK’s inflation rate is now lower than Italy and Germany’s, but higher than in France.
While consumers still face an historic squeeze from the cost of living, the Bank of England may feel able to slow up on rises in interest rates, especially given expectations a recession has already started.
In the absence of further shocks to the world economy, the very worst may well be behind us in the charts at least. It will be many months more before that is felt in ordinary households.