Annual CPI inflation for April reflects the impact of the first month of the COVID-19 lockdown. The rate dropped to 3,0% in April from 4,1% in March, the lowest reading since June 2005 when the rate was 2,8%.
Consumer inflation is now at the bottom of the South African Reserve Bank (SARB) target range of 3–6% (click on the chart to enlarge).
The CPI decreased by 0,5% between March 2020 and April 2020. This was mostly a result of the 11,1% drop in fuel prices due mostly to a sharp decline in the rand price of oil on international markets.
Lockdown regulations in April restricted retail sales to personal care products, food, non-alcoholic beverages and health care items. Prices for food and non-alcoholic beverages increased by 0,3% between March and April, identical to the month-on-month increase recorded in March but lower than the rates registered in February (0,4%) and January (1,2%).
Annual inflation for food and non-alcoholic beverages was 4,4% in April.
On average, prices for bread and cereals were unchanged from March to April whereas meat prices increased by 1,0%. Maize meal prices dropped by 0,2% but brown bread increased by 2,8%. Frozen (IQF) chicken increased by 0,2% and beef mince by 1,8%.
Prices for medical products inched up by 0,1% in the month to record an annual inflation rate of 4,9%. Prices of personal care products edged lower by 0,8% from March to April.
To compile price indices for April, significant adjustments were made to the CPI collection and imputation methods. This was necessitated by lockdown conditions that prohibited the sale of goods and services such as clothing, alcohol, haircuts and restaurants, and which prevented CPI price collectors from visiting retail outlets. Most countries have faced similar issues in computing inflation. The details regarding the adjustments appear in a note published on 21 May 2020 (available here).
For more information, download the latest Consumer Price Index (CPI) release here.
Similar articles are available on the Stats SA website and can be accessed here.
For a monthly overview of economic indicators and infographics, catch the latest edition of the Stats Biz newsletter here.