Stats SA published changes to the consumer inflation basket, providing insight into how household spending habits have shifted since 2016.
It is best practice for national statistical offices to update the basket at least every five years to ensure that it adequately reflects trends in household spending, technology and consumer tastes. The process involves removing items that are no longer relevant and including new items that have attracted a sizable share of consumer expenditure.
In the most recent update, published in January 2022 and referencing the year 2019, the CPI basket will now contain 415 items, up from 404 in 2016. A total of fourteen new items were added, while two items were removed from the basket. Some products were either split into two or combined into one.
Changes in consumer technologies have a large impact on the composition of the basket. In this update, DVD players and satellite dishes are out of the basket while sound bars & speakers are included. In the 2016 update rewritable CDs and postage stamps were removed from the basket.1 For those who might be old enough to remember the VHS recorder – this was removed from the basket way back in 2009.2 Wouldn’t it be fascinating to know what the technology components of the basket will look like in 2040?
A few tweaks were also made to items already in the basket. With growth in the use of data services, the item ‘internet usage’ was split into wired (e.g. fibre) and wireless (e.g. cellular) forms of access. Energy saving and traditional lightbulbs, previously listed as separate items, were amalgamated into one product following the near disappearance of incandescent bulbs.
The item ‘pre-recorded CDs’ was renamed ‘CDs, subscription and streaming music’ to reflect the growth in consumer appetite for streaming music services (click on the image to enlarge).
Gin is the only new inclusion in the alcoholic beverages category, reflecting its growing popularity among consumers in South Africa. Cappuccino sachets have also entered the basket, as well as dairy/fruit juice blends, samp, pureed baby food and jam.
Personal care products such as razors, wipes and make-up (foundation) made the grade as well, together with household items such as floor and wall tiles and fabric softener.
The inflation basket is the bedrock from which the consumer price index (CPI) is calculated. Prices for all items in the basket are collected on a regular basis. Stats SA measures the changes in these prices to calculate the inflation rate, or the change in the cost of living.
1 Stats SA. 2016. The new inflation basket: what’s in and what’s out (read here).
2 Stats SA. 2008. Consumer price index: key changes in 2009 (download here).
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