British inflation eased back to 2.7% in August as retailers kept a lid on the prices of new autumn ranges while petrol pump rises slowed, official figures showed today.

The fall in the Consumer Price Index from an annual rate of 2.8% in July was also spurred by a lower rise in air fares than last year, according to the Office for National Statistics.

Figures showed a month-on-month increase of 0.4%, which was the lowest August rise since 2009. But the retail price index, a separate measure calculated in a different way, rose from 3.1% to 3.3%.

The fall in the inflation rate came as clothing and footwear inflation came in at 2%, compared to 2.8% last year, at a time of year when retailers are introducing new full-price autumn ranges.

Petrol prices rose 2 pence a litre compared to a rise of 3.5 pence a litre in the same month last year, mirroring movements in oil prices. Air fares were up 9.4% compared to 10.2% a year ago, with the main downward effect coming from domestic routes.