Popcorn and smart speakers are added to the 'basket of goods' used to measure inflation - but envelopes are out

11 March 2019

Popcorn and smart speakers have been added to the basket of goods used to measure inflation by the Office for National Statistics. 

Every year the ONS tracks thousands of prices in shops and online to calculate inflation - the rate at which prices rise or fall. To do so, it maintains a so-called 'basket of goods' - a number of items it considers representative of the things that we buy - and tracks the prices of these. 

The inclusion of new items and removal of others gives a key insight into the changing spending habits of the public every year.

Changing the contents of the basket will also likely have an impact on overall inflation statistics, and theoretically is supposed to give a more accurate measure as it better defines what people are buying.

This year notable new inclusions on the list include popcorn, peanut butter, and flavoured teas.

Others include portable/Bluetooth speakers and so-called ‘smart speakers’ such as Google Home Hub and Amazon Alexa, which replaces the old Hi-Fi, removed due to declining consumer spending.

Full crockery sets have been given the boot, as the ONS says people now prefer to buy individual items. Dinner plates have been included instead.

Electric toothbrushes have been included for the first time too.

Envelopes are another notable product now dropped due “increasing use of new technology for communication.”

Other changes are more technical. For example, ‘cola-flavoured drink’ has been removed, and replaced by ‘regular cola drink, bottle’ and ‘diet/sugar free cola drink, bottle’ as it better defines changes in prices relating to the sugar tax.

The new products will be included in the next inflation update for February 2019, to be published on 20 March 2019. See the full list of new inclusions and dropped goods below:

New consumer goods in:

  • Popcorn
  • Peanut Butter
  • Flavoured Tea, e.g. Herbal/Fruit
  • Regular Cola Drink, Bottle
  • Diet/Sugar Free Cola Drink, Bottle
  • Adult Hat/Cap
  • Non-Leather Settee
  • Bakeware - Baking Tray or Roasting Tin
  • Dinner Plate
  • Washing Liquid/Gel
  • Wheel Alignment
  • Portable Speaker eg Bluetooth Speaker
  • Smart Speaker
  • Dog Treats
  • Child’s Fiction Book, 6-12 years old
  • Electric Toothbrush

Old consumer goods out:

  • Cola Flavoured Drink
  • Three-Piece Non-Leather Suite
  • Crockery Set
  • Washing Powder
  • Brake Fitting in Fast Fit Auto Centre
  • Hi-Fi
  • Complete Dry Dog Food
  • Envelopes
  • Staff Restaurant Soft Drink
  • Unit Trust Initial Charge

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