Falling energy prices push inflation to 1.8% in January, from 2.1% the previous month, official figures show.Read more
"December’s slump means that retail sales volumes fell in the fourth quarter as a whole," says Thomas Pugh, UK economist at Capital Economics. "And unless a Brexit deal is signed soon, there is unlikely to be much of a rebound in the first quarter 2019.
"That said, if a no deal Brexit is avoided, consumers should be in a good position to ramp up spending in the second half of the year."
He adds: "With inflation continuing to fall back and pay growth on the up, there should be scope for consumer spending growth to gather some momentum further ahead once a Brexit deal has been finalised."
Year-on-year inflation in the eurozone rose 1.6% in December.
That's slower than the 1.9% rise the previous month.
Jack Allen, senior European economist at Capital Economics, thinks this might indicate that the European Central Bank will wait longer before raising interest rates in the 19-country eurozone.
"Admittedly the slowdown in headline inflation... was almost entirely due to a fall in energy inflation from 9.1% to 5.5%. But core inflation is still showing no sights of rising. It was unchanged at just 1.0% in December, in line with its average over the past few years," he said.
A fall in petrol prices was one of the main reasons that the Consumer Prices Index (CPI) figure for November is at the lowest level since March 2017.
At 2.3% the rate is higher than the 2% targeted by the Bank of England.
Samuel Tombs, chief UK economist at Pantheon Macroeconomics, expects it to fall.
"Inflation still looks set to be below the 2% target right from the start of 2019 and to average just 1.8% over the course of the year".
Capital Economics reckons that the edge down in inflation is "probably the precursor of a larger fall in December, perhaps to the 2% target" which the Bank of England aims for.
"Based on the past relationship, petrol prices should knock another 0.2 percentage points off the headline inflation next month, leaving inflation within touching distance of the Bank of England’s 2% target," said the firm's UK economist Andrew Wishart.