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Inflation basket: what’s in, what’s out

Smart phones and apps have been added to the Office for National Statistics’ (ONS) 2011 inflation basket, replacing mobile phone downloads such as ringtones and wallpapers.

The ONS collects about 180,000 prices every month for a basket of about 650 goods and services. Changes in the prices of the items are used to compile the two measures of inflation: the Consumer Prices Index (CPI) and the Retail Prices Index (RPI).

Ever year, the ONS updates the basket to reflect new trends in consumer behaviour. For example, this year the updated basket will include dating agency fees, for the first time ever. This is because, with the spread of the internet, online dating sites are becoming an increasingly common way for people to find a partner.

“Many of these new items show the way technology is changing our lives,” says ONS statistician Phil Gooding. “Powerful smart phones and the apps that run on them have become essential for many when communicating or seeking information.”

The way that TVs are included is also changing, with the price of TVs bigger than 32″ being measured separately – this is to reflect the increase in households setting up “home cinema” systems.

Sparkling wines are also being added due to their increased consumption, showing that despite difficult economic times, people still want to enjoy themselves.
As new legislation is coming into force this year restricting the sale of cigarettes, vending machine cigarettes are now being removed from the basket. Also going is the pork shoulder, which is being replaced by oven-ready joints, as people move further towards more ready prepared foods.

What’s IN:

  • oven-ready joint
  • dried fruit
  • sparkling wine
  • women’s high-heeled shoes
  • MDF
  • glasses with single-vision lens
  • mobile phone apps
  • smart phones
  • craft kit
  • hardback book (fiction)
  • provincial newspaper
  • hair conditioner
  • dating agency fees

What’s OUT:

  • pork shoulder
  • lager (four cans)
  • vending machine cigarettes
  • women’s premium branded dress
  • hardboard
  • spectacle frames (without lenses)
  • mobile phone downloads
  • rosebush
  • vet fees for spaying a kitten

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