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Nov 16, 2022
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UK inflation up again, but fashion price rises lag

Nov 16, 2022

UK inflation continues to rise, hitting a new 41-year high in October, driven by rising energy and food prices. But what about fashion prices?

Photo: Pixabay/Public domain

The Office for National Statistics said on Wednesday that the Consumer Prices Index including owner occupiers' housing costs (CPIH) figure for clothing and footwear was up 8.5% year on year. That was higher than the 8.4% seen in September.

Month on month, the October figure was up 1.6%, which was also higher than the 1.5% rise in September.

Overall CPIH rose by 9.6%, up from 8.8% in September 2022. As mentioned, the price of essentials such as food, heating and petrol were the biggest drivers here, and even though fashion prices rose, they clearly lagged other increases.

That's despite costs for many fashion brands and retailers going through the roof in recent periods and continuing to do so in October. It seems the fashion industry is bowing to the inevitable, and not pushing its prices beyond what it thinks its customers can bear, which means many of the higher costs are being absorbed by companies.

The ONS also said that the Consumer Prices Index (CPI) excluding those housing costs rose by 11.1% in the 12 months to October 2022, up from 10.1% in September 2022. The increase was higher than analysts had expected with predictions of a 10.7% rise. 

It's all the bad news for the fashion sector with consumers – especially at the lower end of the income scale – being forced to prioritise essentials and cut back on discretionary spending.

In fact, the ONS said low-income households faced a bigger hit from inflation as energy and food make up a bigger share of their spending. Their inflation rate was 11.9% compared to 10.5% for higher earners.

This also suggests that while lower-priced retailers and brands often do better in recessionary times, this might not always be the case for now. We've already seen how resilient the luxury sector is as its customers still have plenty of spare cash. But while stores with lower prices might benefit from some middle-income shoppers trading down, many of their regular lower-income shoppers might be reining-in their spending.

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