Higher clothing prices contributed to a rise in inflation in November, according to official figures released today (13 December), but the overall rate is slowly moving down from highs seen earlier this year.  

The Office for National Statistics said the Consumer Prices Index (CPI) - the government's targeted inflation rate - rose 0.2% last month, lifting the annual inflation rate to 4.8%. This is down from 5.0% reported in October.

Overall, clothing and footwear prices rose by 1.2% between October and November, with upward effects across a wide range of goods but particularly from garments.

However, the ONS said clothing contributed to the downward pressure on inflation - along with food, petrol, furniture, household equipment and maintenance - after racking up gains earlier in the year. In July, for example, the 3.7% rise in overall clothing and footwear prices was the largest rise for a July to August period on record.

Annual inflation as recorded by the alternative Retail Prices Index (RPI) measure fell to 5.2% in November, from 5.4% in October.

"These figures are positive news for consumers and retailers alike as inflation may now be on its way down after peaking in September this year," said Helen Dickinson, head of retail at KPMG, adding that a fall was widely expected as commodity and oil prices start to annualise.

"However, if you scratch beneath the surface, retailers' margins continue to shrink as unwilling consumers refuse to pay full price for anything," she warned.

"Looking further ahead, inflation is expected to drop and consumer confidence will most likely grow weaker - thus affecting retailers' bottom line. Troubling times are expected for retailers in the New Year."