Inflation remains low in January

The annual rate of consumer inflation was 3,2% in January, slightly up from December’s reading of 3,1%. The monthly increase in the consumer price index was 0,3%, following 0,2% between November and December. The monthly changes in the CPI have remained within a range of 0% to 0,3% since August 2020. Food and non-alcoholic beverages, transport, and miscellaneous goods & services all contributed to the monthly change in the headline CPI in January.

Annual inflation for food and non-alcoholic beverages was 5,4%, which is lower than the 6,0% recorded in December. However, the monthly increase of 0,7% is higher than the previous month’s 0,5%.

Meat accounts for just over a third of the food component of the CPI. Meat prices rose 1,5% between December and January. Monthly increases for meat have registered at 1% or higher since October. Another way to look at this increasing trend is to note that the average monthly change for the past six months is 0,8% and only 0,3% for the six months before that. Stewing beef increased by 3,8% and IQF chicken portions by 2,2% between December and January.

Oils and fats is the food category with the highest annual rate: 10,5%. Prices increased by 1,2% from last month. Cooking oil registered a 2,7% monthly increase to reach an annual price rise of 13,6%.

The monthly increase in the hot beverages index was 1,9%, leading to an annual rise of 6,4%. Ceylon (black) tea registered a 4,6% monthly increase. The annual increase was 12,1%, up from December’s 10,9%.

Fuel prices rose in January by 3,2% – the first monthly increase since August 2020. Year-on-year, fuel prices were 8,6% lower.

Very large monthly decreases were seen in most categories of (long-distance-related) public transport following the December holiday period. Specific monthly changes were: car rental rates -10,1%; air fares -20,6%; and long-distance bus fares -12,7%.

Bank charges and building insurance contributed to a 0,3% monthly increase in the price index for miscellaneous goods and services. Bank charges increased by 1,4% (monthly), bringing the annual rate down to 2,9% from December’s rate of 7,4%. By comparison, in January 2020 bank charges increased by 5,8% (monthly). Building insurance increased by 2,8% from December, which raised the annual rate from 2,7% in December to 3,8% in January.