The Consumer Price Index (CPI) rose 0.4 per cent in the June quarter 2013, compared with a rise of 0.4 per cent in March quarter 2013, indicating there’s room to keep pressure off retailers.

In the year to June quarter 2013, CPI rose 2.4 per cent compared to a rise of 2.5 per cent through the year to March quarter 2013.

The most significant price rises in the June quarter 2013 were for medical and hospital services (+3.4%), tobacco (+3.0%), new dwelling purchase by owner–occupiers (0.9%), furniture (+4.8%) and rents (+1.1%).The most significant offsetting price falls were for domestic holiday travel and accommodation (–4.0%) and automotive fuel (–3.1%).

Australian National Retailers Association (ANRA) CEO Margy Osmond said the inflation leaves plenty of room for an August rate cut by the Reserve Bank of Australia.

“The retail sector has made a concerted effort to keep the heat off Australian family budgets and Wednesday figures illustrate this. Prices for food and non-alcoholic beverages have increased by only 1.1 per cent over the past year and furnishings, household equipment and services rose only marginally, by 0.1 per cent, in the same period. Clothing and footwear prices are actually 0.3 per cent below where they were last year,” she said.

“The modest rise in CPI shows the retail sector is continuing to play its part in relieving cost of living pressures for Australian families, despite the increasing cost of doing business.

“Retail figures have been reasonably flat recently, after starting the year with a bang. Retailers will be looking for all the help they can get from the RBA to continue to prove to consumers the sector is playing a positive role in keeping costs down.”

Meanwhile Treasurer Chris Bowen said inflation remains well-contained and the government will continue to assist Australians with cost of living pressures.

“The Labor Government is committed to easing cost of living pressures for Australian families as the economy transitions away from the mining investment boom," he said.

“For example, moving to a floating carbon price one year early in 2014 will lower inflation by 0.5 per cent and cut average household costs by $380 in 2014-15. This will also lower business costs.

“As we transition away from the mining investment boom, we have solid growth, contained inflation, record low interest rates, low unemployment and strong public finances as demonstrated by our AAA credit rating.

“Only careful management will continue to bring growth, maintain our resilient economy and lower cost of living pressures for families. Crucial to this will be revitalising productivity growth through a new competitiveness agenda where Government, businesses and unions work together to ensure continued prosperity in a post mining boom economy.”