Higher food prices pushed up inflation in March to 3.5% from 3.4% the previous month, according to figures today from the Office for National Statistics (ONS).
It said the price of fruit, bread, cereals and meat had increased slightly while this time last year they were falling, triggering the slight rise in annual inflation.
The higher cost of clothing, footwear and computer games also contributed to the rise in the Consumer Prices Index (CPI), which the Bank of England uses as its key measure of inflation – it has a 2% target for inflation on the CPI measure.
However, Retail Prices Index (RPI) inflation fell slightly to 3.6% from 3.7%.
Today’s CPI figure brings to a halt a five-month run of declines from a peak of 5.2% last September.
The Government and the Bank of England had hoped inflation would continue to fall and lead to stronger consumer spending which in turn would ease the plight of the retail sector and boost the fragile economic recovery.