Prices rose at an annual rate of 10.1 percent last month, down from 10.4 percent in February. Food costs continued to keep inflation high.
Britain’s inflation rate slowed last month, but is likely to bring only limited relief to households as it stubbornly held in the double digits because of rapidly rising food prices.
Consumer prices rose 10.1 percent in March from a year earlier, the Office for National Statistics said on Wednesday, a slightly slower pace than the 10.4 percent in February. But economists had expected the country’s inflation rate to drop below 10 percent for the first time since the summer.
Britain’s annual inflation rate peaked at 11.1 percent in October but its downward trend was disrupted in February, when the rate unexpectedly ticked higher. The Bank of England then raised interest rates for an 11th consecutive time in March, to 4.25 percent, the highest since 2008.
Wednesday’s data is a welcome return to inflation’s downward path, but Britain’s cost-of-living challenges are still stark. Food prices rose about 19 percent in March from a year earlier, with bread, meat and cooking oils continuing to climb quickly. Bread and cereal price inflation is at a record high, according to the statistics agency. Core inflation, a measure that excludes food and energy prices, which tend to be more volatile, was 6.2 percent, the same as the previous month.