So how do we measure inflation? With GoPros, leggings and nectarines!

For seven decades the Office for National Statistics has been using a notional ‘Basket of Goods and Services’ to help measure the rising and falling cost of products and services over time, known as consumer price inflation.

This ‘shopping basket’ contains hundreds of goods and services, with some items taken out of the basket and some brought in to make sure the measures are up to date and representative of consumer spending patterns. Check out the ONS interactive timeline here:

Women’s exercise leggings and action cameras such as GoPros have been added to the basket of goods and services used to calculate inflation. In addition, new food items added to the 2018 list include raspberries, quiche and prepared mashed potato, some 30 years after dried mashed potato left.

However, pork pies and Edam cheese are out. While pork pies are being removed as an individual item, they will still be covered by the wider product of a “meat-based snack”, which includes pork pies as well as, for example, sausage rolls, mini Cornish pasties and scotch eggs. This is to ensure that we can collect prices for this kind of snack in shops where pork pies themselves are not available.

The basket of goods helps measure the changing cost of products and services over time, updated annually to reflect consumer behaviour and showing the changing tastes and habits of the UK.

With more and more soft play areas opening across the UK, adult-supervised soft play sessions have been introduced to the basket for the first time. Children’s sit and ride toys replace the child’s tricycle, whose coverage has been falling reflecting its availability in shops.

The rise of the smartphone means digital camcorders no longer feature in the basket, while digital media players such as Chromecast and Apple TV have replaced digital TV recorders and receivers such as Freeview boxes. The addition of action cameras this year reflects the growing popularity of these devices.

Nightclubs across the UK have been closing over recent years and the basket of goods reflects this. The “bottle of lager in a nightclub” follows nightclub admissions (dropped in 2016) out of the basket.

Other items added to the 2018 basket include body moisturising lotion, girls’ leggings and high chairs. Items removed include peaches and nectarines, leg waxing and ATM charges.

Commenting on the new items, senior statistician Philip Gooding said:

“Every year we add new items to the basket to ensure that it reflects modern spending habits. We also update the weight each item has to ensure the overall inflation numbers reflect shoppers’ experiences of inflation.

“However, while we add and remove a number of items each year, the overall change is actually quite small. This year we changed 36 items out of a total basket of 714.”

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