Annual consumer price inflation edged slightly higher to 5,0% in September from 4,9% in August and 4,6% in July. This represents the fifth consecutive month with annual inflation above the 4,5% midpoint of the South African Reserve Bank’s monetary policy target range.
The monthly change in the consumer price index (CPI) was 0,2%.
Transport, food & NAB (non-alcoholic beverages), and housing & utilities were the main drivers behind the 5,0% annual rate in September.
Fuel continues to spur annual transport inflation
Fuel was a significant contributor to annual transport inflation in September. On average, fuel prices have increased by 19,9% over the last year. The price of inland 95-octane petrol reached an all-time high of R18,34 per litre in September 2021, biting into the pockets of motorists who were paying R15,18 per litre in September 2020 and R16,03 per litre in September 2019.1
Drivers of diesel-powered vehicles have also had to fork out more. The average price for diesel was R17,18 per litre in September 2021, higher than the prices recorded in September 2020 (R14,87) and September 2019 (R16,02).2
Annual fuel inflation has been consistently higher than overall (headline) inflation since April 2021. There is speculation in the press about further fuel price increases in November, and that these might be substantial.3
Car rental prices jump in September
The transport item that recorded a notable monthly increase in September was public transport. Public transport prices increased by 2,1% in September 2021 compared with August 2021. This was mainly underpinned by car rental prices that registered a monthly jump of 16,2%.
Monthly food and drink prices remain unchanged
Monthly food & NAB inflation was flat in September. This means that, on average, food & NAB prices did not change in September compared with the previous month. This is the lowest monthly reading since August 2020 when the monthly rate was also 0%.
Prices for fruit, vegetables, meat and fish decreased in September 2021 compared with August 2021. Beef steak prices declined by 1,3% and lamb/mutton was on average 0,6% cheaper. Despite the monthly decline in prices, meat is still 10,3% more expensive than a year ago.
The annual inflation rate for oils & fats remains above 20%, with the September 2021 reading at 22,4%. The average price for a 700 ml bottle of sunflower oil was R30,98 in September, the highest on record since Stats SA started publishing data with the new inflation basket (January 2017).
Other notable price changes
The annual inflation rate for restaurants and hotels was 3,2% in September, the highest since November 2019 when the rate was also 3,2%.
Housing & utilities recorded an annual percentage change of 4,0%. This falls within the South African Reserve Bank’s monetary policy target range of 3–6%. This is the highest annual increase since June 2020 when it was also 4,0%.
For more information, download the September 2021 Consumer Price Index (CPI) release here.
1 Department of Mineral Resources and Energy. Comparing prices for petrol, diesel and illuminating paraffin (IP) (click here).
2 Stats SA, CPI_Average Prices_All urban(202109) Excel file (download here).
3 BusinessTech, Here is the expected petrol price for November. 18 October 2021 (read here).
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