The level of inflation, according to Consumer Price Index (CPI), was less than November’s rate of 3.1%, which was at its highest for six years.
The high rate meant that Mark Carney, the governor of the Bank of England, had to write a letter to Chancellor Philip Hammond explaining why inflation failed to keep within one percentage point of the government’s target.
It is the first time inflation has fallen in six months, but ONS said it was too early to predict that this would lead to a continued drop in inflation.
ONS attributed the drop to air fares, as well as a decrease in the price of games and toys. Increasing tobacco, petrol and diesel prices were also mentioned as a factor.
Rachel Lund, head of retail insight and analytics at the British Retail Consortium, said: “We are likely to continue to see inflation falling back this year as, eighteen months on from the referendum, currency impacts have mostly fed through and are now falling out of the yearly calculations.
“However, the recent upswing in oil prices means we’re likely to find the easing in inflation comes slower than previously anticipated. That’s not great news for consumers, who are still seeing prices rise faster that their incomes.
She added: “As the government embarks on negotiating new trade arrangements, it must recognise that consumer spending, the biggest component of the economy, is under severe pressure, and do all it can to ensure that the grip on spending power is not further tightened through new tariffs on everyday goods.”