Business

Inflation basket: E-books added by ONS

  • 12 March 2013
  • From the section Business
Shopping bag
Image caption Thousands of prices are collected from 150 different areas of the UK

E-books have been added to the basket of goods used to calculate the UK's rate of inflation, but Freeview set-top boxes are out.

The latter has been replaced in the basket by digital television recorders, signalling the changing face of technology.

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) updates the basket each year so the contents accurately reflect current trends in spending.

The basket contains about 700 items.

Some 180,000 individual prices are collected from 150 areas of the UK each month to calculate the rate of inflation and outline the changing cost of living.

In January, the Consumer Prices Index (CPI) measure of inflation stood at 2.7% for the fourth month in a row, and the Retail Prices Index (RPI) was at 3.3%.

Bubbly loses fizz

The rise of digital readers, such as Kindles, is reflected in the changes made by the ONS. In recent years, the rapid change in the use of technology has been one of the key factors in the inflation basket review.

Digital television recorders are added for the first time, following the digital switchover.

Image caption Champagne sales on licensed premises have been taken out of the basket

Consumers' changing eating and drinking habits are also shown in the latest changes - and nod to a shift towards healthy eating and busy lives.

Blueberries and packaged stir-fry vegetables have been added to the basket, alongside charcuterie and hot chocolate.

These changes are partly designed to make food categories more representative.

The ONS said that the spirits drunk by younger people were reflected with the addition of white rum from off-licences, but some sales of champagne have been withdrawn because the amount of bubbly drunk continues to fall.

Sales in restaurants and bars dropped by 7% last year, leading to the end of its eight year inclusion in the ONS basket.

DIY enthusiasts have led to the introduction of self-assembly kitchen wall units to the inflation basket, with basin taps being taken out.

Historical changes to the inflation basket give a fascinating insight into changing fashions over the decades.

For example, the mangle and dance hall admissions were added in the 1950s, the cassette recorder and dried mashed potato went in during the 1970s, while muffins and fruit smoothies joined the basket at the start of this century.

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