Inflation was kept in check last month by plummeting food prices, official figures show. Price cutting on milk, eggs and meat, and bumper supplies of fresh produce, helped limit the consumer price index annual rate of inflation to 1.8% in March, compared with the government's target of 2%.
Some poultry movement restrictions imposed after the discovery of dead swan infected with bird flu in Fife are to be lifted. The 1.9-mile protection zone will be removed today (Saturday). The 6.2-mile surveillance zone is due to be lifted on May 1.
OFT decision delay
The Office of Fair Trading has announced that its proposed decision on whether to refer the grocery sector to the Competition Commission will be delayed. It said it was still considering representations. Due to the large volumes of responses received, it now expected to reach a final decision in early May instead of the end of April.
Shopper numbers over the Easter period were down on last year, data has revealed. Retail consultancy Footfall found that shopper numbers on Good Friday fell 5.5% year-on-year, 4.2% on Saturday and 7.4% on Easter Monday. A spokeswoman for Footfall said that the figures were in line with the British Retail Consortium's data which found that retail sales increased just 1.6% last month.
Role in probe
The Office of Fair Trading is planning to offer companies that come forward with evidence of anti-competitive behaviour a role in its investigations. It plans to designate "formal complainants" who will be consulted before it makes a final decision on the case.