Inflation rose in February, but remained below the Bank of England’s target as rising prices for food and alcohol were offset by weaker growth in clothing and footwear.
Figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) show the Consumer Prices Index (CPI) rose to 1.9% last month.
Economists had expected inflation to hold steady at 1.8%, after the January rate came in below the Bank of England’s 2% target for the first time in two years.
CPI including owner-occupiers’ housing costs (CPIH) – the ONS’s preferred measure of inflation was unchanged at 1.8% in February.
Mike Hardie, head of inflation at the ONS, said: “The rate of inflation is stable, with a modest rise in food as well as alcohol and tobacco offset by clothing and footwear prices rising by less than they did a year ago.”
The price of food was up 0.4% on the month compared with 0.1% last year and a 0.9% increase on the month for alcohol and tobacco versus flat prices in February 2018.
Beer in particular showed an increase, up 0.6% between January and February compared with a decline of 1.1% last year.
Annually, food and alcohol inflation hit 1.1% and 5.1% respectively.
Upward pressure also came from recreation and culture, as prices rose between January and February 2019 compared with a smaller rise between the same two months last year. Computer games had the biggest effect.
But clothing and footwear prices had a downward effect. Although price tags were higher in February as usual, following the January sales, the increase was smaller than the same period last year.
Annually, clothing and footwear prices dropped 2%.
At the pumps, motorists saw lower fuel costs last month, as petrol fell by 0.5p per litre on the month to 119.1p. Diesel also fell by 0.2p to 129.3p.
The Retail Prices Index (RPI), a separate measure of inflation, was 2.4%, down from 2.5% in January. It is the lowest since October 2016 when it was 2.2%.