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UK shop price inflation slows to 1 per cent in July

Lowest rise in food inflation since 2010.

Overall shop price inflation in the UK slowed to 1 per cent in July from 1.1 per cent in June, according to figures released today by the British Retail Consortium (BRC) and Nielsen.

Food inflation fell to 3.1 per cent in July from 3.5 per cent the previous month, marking the lowest rise since 2010. Deflation in non-food items was unchanged at 0.3 per cent in July.

Stephen Robertson, director-general of BRC, said:

A two-year low for food inflation is good news for hard-pressed households still suffering falls in disposable incomes. Lower shop price inflation is helping to narrow the gap between living costs and wage increases.

Extra promotions, particularly linked to party food and this summer's big events, are combining with past falls in commodity prices, which are working their way through to shop prices.

But the relief may not last. Poor harvests, especially of corn and wheat in the US, are creating a build-up of inflationary pressure. Animal feed has risen sharply in recent months and is likely to affect prices for things like meat, poultry and eggs.

Overall, non-food goods were cheaper than a year ago for a sixth month as retailers discounted to generate sales. Great news for customers who have spare money to spend on clothing, electricals and furniture. But many don't have money available or the confidence to spend even with prices down.

Mike Watkins, senior manager of retailer services at Nielsen, said:

Over the last few months, we have seen difficult trading conditions due to the unseasonable weather. In food, promotions remain close to an all-time high and the focus on price cuts and the use of vouchers or coupons continues as consumer demand is unpredictable.

So, shoppers are seeing a double benefit as external cost price pressures have also eased a little which contributed to a further slowing in shop price inflation in July. Once back from their summer holidays, we expect consumers to still be cautious about big ticket or discretionary spend, which is why there is no upward pressure on non-food prices at the moment.

The BRC-Nielsen shop price index is a monthly measure of UK shop price inflation. It measures changes in the price of 500 of the most commonly bought items.

Photo: Getty Images
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When will the government take action to tackle the plight of circus animals?

Britain is lagging behind the rest of the world - and innocent animals are paying the price. 

It has been more than a year since the Prime Minister reiterated his commitment to passing legislation to impose a ban on the suffering of circus animals in England and Wales. How long does it take to get something done in Parliament?

I was an MP for more than two decades, so that’s a rhetorical question. I’m well aware that important issues like this one can drag on, but the continued lack of action to help stop the suffering of animals in circuses is indefensible.

Although the vast majority of the British public doesn’t want wild animals used in circuses (a public consultation on the issue found that more than 94 per cent of the public wanted to see a ban implemented and the Prime Minister promised to prohibit the practice by January 2015, no government bill on this issue was introduced during the last parliament.

A private member’s bill, introduced in 2013, was repeatedly blocked in the House of Commons by three MPs, so it needs a government bill to be laid if we are to have any hope of seeing this practice banned.

This colossal waste of time shames Britain, while all around the world, governments have been taking decisive action to stop the abuse of wild animals in circuses. Just last month, Catalonia’s Parliament overwhelmingly voted to ban it. While our own lawmakers dragged their feet, the Netherlands approved a ban that comes into effect later this year, as did Malta and Mexico. Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus, North America’s longest-running circus, has pledged to retire all the elephants it uses by 2018. Even in Iran, a country with precious few animal-welfare laws, 14 states have banned this archaic form of entertainment. Are we really lagging behind Iran?

The writing has long been on the wall. Only two English circuses are still clinging to this antiquated tradition of using wild animals, so implementing a ban would have very little bearing on businesses operating in England and Wales. But it would have a very positive impact on the animals still being exploited.

Every day that this legislation is delayed is another one of misery for the large wild animals, including tigers, being hauled around the country in circus wagons. Existing in cramped cages and denied everything that gives their lives meaning, animals become lethargic and depressed. Their spirits broken, many develop neurotic and abnormal behaviour, such as biting the bars of their cages and constantly pacing. It’s little wonder that such tormented creatures die far short of their natural life spans.

Watching a tiger jump through a fiery hoop may be entertaining to some, but we should all be aware of what it entails for the animal. UK laws require that animals be provided with a good quality of life, but the cruelty inherent in confining big, wild animals, who would roam miles in the wild, to small, cramped spaces and forcing them to engage in unnatural and confusing spectacles makes that impossible in circuses.

Those who agree with me can join PETA’s campaign to urge government to listen to the public and give such animals a chance to live as nature intended.


The Right Honourable Ann Widdecombe was an MP for 23 years and served as Shadow Home Secretary. She is a novelist, documentary maker and newspaper columnist.