The price of food in UK retail stores increased at a faster rate in March than a month earlier, according to data from the British Retail Consortium (BRC ) and industry analysts Nielsen .

Food inflation was 5.4% last month, the BRC-Nielsen Shop Price Index reported today (4 April). 

The increasing cost of oil, as well as higher prices in categories including meat, fish and convenience food, pushed up grocery prices, the index showed. In February, food inflation was 4.2%.

Stephen Robertson, director general of the BRC, said changes to retail promotions had also had an effect on the data.

“Retailers are also shifting away from multi-buy reductions on specific items in favour of money-off coupons for an entire shop, giving customers more flexibility and producing savings on food shopping which don’t show up in this index,” Robertson said.

Fresh food inflation was 4.6% in March, compared to 3.4% a month earlier. Inflation accelerated in the meat, fish, convenience food and vegetable categories.

Inflation in the index’s ambient food category accelerated to an eight-month high, up 6.6% year-on-year, compared to 5.6% in February. Bread and cereals saw a “sharp rise” in prices.