The State’s inflation rate fell for a third consecutive month in May on the back of falling transport and energy costs.
The Central Statistics Office (CSO) said consumer prices, as measured by the Consumer Price Index (CPI), rose at an annual rate of 6.6 per cent last month, down from 7.2 per cent in April.
The latest figures, however, offer no immediate relief to consumers, with the headline rate still more than three times the European Central Bank’s target of 2 per cent. May was the 12th straight month where the annual increase in consumer prices was at least 5 per cent.
The CSO also noted that consumer prices rose by 0.3 per cent on a monthly basis, with the most significant price changes recorded in restaurants and hotels (+1.6 per cent) and alcoholic beverages and tobacco (+1 per cent).
“Restaurants and hotels rose due to higher prices for hotel accommodation and higher costs of alcoholic drinks and food consumed in licensed premises, restaurants, cafes, etc,” the CSO said.
The sectors which saw the biggest price declines on a monthly basis were transport (-1.2 per cent); housing, water, electricity, gas and other fuels (-0.1 per cent); and communications (-0.1 per cent).
Transport cost fell primarily due to lower prices for diesel, petrol, services in respect of personal transport equipment and passenger transport by bus and coach.
“This decrease was partially offset by higher prices for motor cars and airfares,” the CSO said.
The largest annual increases in May were in housing, water, electricity, gas and other fuels (+16.4 per cent). The CSO said prices in this sector rose “mainly due to an increase in the cost of mortgage interest repayments, rents, electricity, gas and solid fuels”.
ECB rate changes have substantially increased monthly mortgage payments for many borrowers, adding to the cost-of-living squeeze.
The other price challenge for consumers is food with the cost of food and non-alcoholic beverages up almost 13 per cent year on year.
“Food non-alcoholic beverages increased due to higher prices across a range of products such as meat, bread & cereals, milk, cheese and eggs and vegetables,” the CSO said. The only divisions to show a decrease on an annual basis were education (-6.3 per cent) and transport (-1.7 per cent).