There was an unexpected jump in inflation last month as the cost of air fares rose sharply and clothing retailers ended summer sales.
Consumer price inflation (CPI) inched up to 2.6% in July from 2.4% in June, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) said.
It was mostly driven by a 21.7% rise in air fares in just a month as summer holidays started and athletes started to arrive ahead of the Olympic Games in London.
The ONS suggested while there was often a seasonal spike, fares were higher this year as a result of them being very low in the same period of 2011.
The monthly fall in clothing and footwear prices was the smallest June-July drop since records started in 1996 as retailers had started seasonal discounts in June due to record rainfall.
A fall in inflation is seen as a crucial ingredient for a recovery from the recession.
Just last week the Bank of England predicted CPI would return to its 2% target by the end of the year, falling to 1.7% in two years' time - giving it the short-term conditions to add more stimulus once the current programme to buy £50bn of Government bonds ends in November.
At the launch of the bank's Inflation Report, its governor Sir Mervyn King had spoken of his hopes that the squeeze on the consumer was largely over as price rises were more closely matched to wage increases.
However, union boss Brendan Barber saw today's inflation figures as a "body blow to workers".
The TUC general secretary Brendan Barber said: "Last week the Bank said the UK economy would improve as real incomes started to grow.
"Today's news will knock back the recovery even further into the future."