Shop prices fell for the 34th consecutive month in February, with food returning to deflation after a 0.1% rise in January.

Food prices fell by 0.4% last month compared to last year, driven by fresh food at -0.9%, according to the latest BRC-Nielsen Shop Price Index.

Oils and fats and the fruit and vegetable categories all experienced an acceleration in deflation, while meat fell into deflationary territory.

Prices of ambient food dropped 0.3%, while overall food prices fell by 2.0% in February.

BRC chief executive Helen Dickinson said: “With consumer confidence falling back and wage growth remaining subdued, retailers continue to support their customers with prices and promotions to maintain market share in the tough trading environment.

“Against this backdrop we are asking government to work more collaboratively with us to address business rates and ensure the successful implementation of policy measures, such as the National Living Wage and the apprenticeship levy.”

Nielsen head of retailer and business insight, Mike Watkins, said: “Getting a larger share of the wallet of shoppers continues to a challenge for many food and non-food retailers and competition remains intense on the high street.

“Food prices continue to fall as supermarkets are working hard to stimulate sales with price cuts rather than multi-buy promotions, and this is leading to continued deflation in food. With uncertain market conditions, offers and discounts are likely to continue for the time being.”