Consumer inflation softens as fuel prices ease

Headline inflation dipped to 5,7% in January from 5,9% in December, mainly the result of lower fuel prices. The consumer price index (CPI) increased by 0,2% between December and January, compared with a monthly rate of 0,6% in December.


This CPI release is the first to be compiled using the recently updated weights and basket of goods and services.1 The price indices have also been rebased so that December 2021 = 100.2

Fuel and public transport prices moderate in January

Motorists and businesses breathed a little easier in January as fuel prices dropped by 2,8% from the record highs in December. The price of inland 95-octane petrol decreased by 68c per litre3 and diesel (the average price) was down by 25c. The annual price increase for the fuel category was 32,2% in January, lower than the 40,5% registered in December.

Passengers using public transport also enjoyed lower prices in January. Significant monthly price decreases were recorded for car rental (down 12,0%), air fares (down 11,3%), and long-distance buses (down 20,7%). However, note that these movements between December and January are largely seasonal. If we compare with January 2021, car rental prices have increased by 53,0% and air fares are up by 13,5%. Long-distance bus fares, however, decreased by 9,3%.

Inflation for oils & fats the highest in almost 11 years

In contrast to transport, annual food and non-alcoholic beverages inflation edged higher, from 5,5% in December to 5,7% in January. The monthly rate in January was 0,9%, with large monthly increases recorded for oils & fats and vegetables.

Prices for cooking oil continue to soar, increasing by 5,2% between December and January, taking the annual rate to 32,2%. The average price of a bottle of cooking oil (750 ml) increased to R31,12 in January 2022 from R24,25 a year ago. The annual rate for oils & fats was 22,9% in January, the highest reading since 23,7% in September 2011 (almost 11 years ago).

Vegetable prices jumped to an annual increase of 8,6%, the highest annual rise since April 2019. The monthly rise was 3,4%. Products that recorded notable monthly increases were tomatoes (17,4%), lettuce (15,3%), spinach (6,9%), carrots (5,7%) and pumpkin (2,6%).

Hotel inflation accelerates on the back of higher occupancy rates

Restaurant and hotel prices continue to rise as both sectors recover from the worst of the pandemic. Annual inflation for this category was 5,0% in January 2022, increasing from a low of -0,5% in February 2021.

Annual hotel inflation was 2,8% in January 2022, the highest reading since June 2019 (3,1%). The rise in hotel prices follows increasing occupancy rates in the sector. The occupancy rate for South African hotels was 33,2% in November 2021, according to the latest tourist accommodation data.4 This is much higher than the low of 1,5% recorded in May 2020, but still worse than the average of 50% recorded in 2019.

For more information, download the January 2022 CPI release here.


1 For more information on the recent reweighting and rebasing exercise, see the information note here.

2 See Figure 1 and Table B1 in the January 2022 CPI release for the headline index.

3 Department of Mineral Resources and Energy. Comparing prices for petrol, diesel and illuminating paraffin (IP) (click here).

4 Stats SA, Tourist accommodation, November 2021 (download here).

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