The rate of inflation rose unexpectedly in June because the coronavirus crisis delayed the usual summer sales season at fashion retailers, according to official figures.
The Office for National Statistics (ONS) charted an increase in the annual rate to 0.6% last month from 0.5% in May.
Economists had forecast that the rate would fall to 0.4% – further easing pressure on family budgets as households battle consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic that has hit jobs and wages.
The ONS said an easing of food prices was offset by rising costs for games and clothing.
Its deputy national statistician, Jonathan Athow, said: “The inflation rate has increased for the first time this year, but remains low by historical standards.
“Due to the impact of the coronavirus, clothing prices have not followed the usual seasonal pattern this year, with the normal falls due to the start of the summer sales failing to materialise.”