UK consumer price inflation jumped to 1% in July from 0.6% in June as lockdown measures eased further.
The Office for National Statistics (ONS) said the figure was boosted by rising petrol and clothing prices.
“In addition, prices for private dental treatment, physiotherapy and haircuts have increased with the need for PPE contributing to costs,” the ONS said.
The rise, which surprised economists, will mean a bigger increase in some rail fares from January.
Season ticket prices and other regulated fares are pegged to the Retail Prices Index, which is no longer considered a national statistic by the ONS. It rose to 1.6% from 1.1%.
The Bank of England said earlier this month that it expects inflation to drop again soon.
It could fall to -0.3% in August, the central bank said.
“Inflation has risen, in part, due to the largest monthly pump price increase in nearly a decade, as international oil prices rose from their lows earlier this year,” said Jonathan Athow, deputy national statistician for economic statistics at the ONS.
‘Activity in the economy’
Core inflation rose to 1.8% from 1.4%. That measure excludes energy, food, tobacco and alcohol prices, as they are considered volatile.
The rise was a surprise to economists, said Neil Birrell, chief investment officer at money manager Premier Miton. “It’s a bit early to call the return of inflation, but it does show that there is activity in the economy,” he said.
The ONS monitors the prices of a selection of goods and services commonly bought by British households. What cost £100 last year should cost £101 today.
As lockdown restrictions have eased, more goods and services that the ONS have become available, it said.