LONDON, June 29 (Reuters) - British retailers raised prices at the fastest pace since 2008 this month, driven by the rapidly rising cost of food, according to industry data that showed the extent of the inflation squeeze for households.
The British Retail Consortium (BRC) said on Wednesday that average prices among its members in early June were 3.1% higher than a year earlier, the biggest jump since September 2008 and speeding from May's 2.8% rise.
The BRC's measure of inflation covers a narrower range of goods than Britain's official consumer prices index, which showed inflation hit a 40-year high of 9.1% in May.
Food prices on the BRC's measure were up 5.6% on the year in June compared with a 4.3% rise in May, the largest food price rise since June 2011. Non-food prices rose by 1.9%, a touch slower than in May but close to record highs.
"Retailers are working to find more ways to protect their customers from the worst effects of inflation, but if costs continue to spiral, government may need to find ways to help retail businesses support their customers," BRC chief executive Helen Dickinson said.
The Bank of England is watching for signs that Britain's inflation jump leads to persistent inflation pressures and it has said it will act forcefully if that happens. The BoE has raised interest rates five times since December.
The BRC survey was conducted between June 1 and June 7.
Reporting by William Schomberg, editing by Andy Bruce