Spanish consumer prices ticked higher in May but slumping demand in a period of deep recession and record unemployment kept inflation in check, official data showed on Thursday. Boosted by the rising cost of food and soft drinks, consumer prices rose 1.8 percent over the year to May after a 1.5-percent increase the previous month, the National Statistics Institute said in a preliminary report. Consumer prices rose 0.1 percent in May when compared to the previous month, unchanged from the pace in April. Spain's inflation rate leapt when the conservative-leaning government raised the sales tax in September last year so as to rein in the public deficit. Despite the impact of a higher sales tax, annual inflation was reined in by lower prices for fuel and lubricants in May as well as a lack of demand by consumers and businesses as the economy shrinks and the unemployment rate towers above 27 percent.