The coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic and its impact on consumer behaviour is reflected in this year’s additions to the Consumer Price Inflation (CPI) basket of goods and services.
This virtual "shopping basket" is reviewed every year to ensure it continues to accurately measure the changing cost of products and services over time and reflects the changing tastes and habits of UK consumers. Some items are taken out of the basket, some are brought in, and others remain unchanged.
This year’s main additions include:
Hand sanitiser – Something many of us are rarely without nowadays, reflecting the increased expenditure on portable products of this nature.
Hand weights for home exercise – As gyms have been closed during national restrictions, more consumers have exercised at home. This is an area of consumer spending that links into the trend for healthier living.
Smartwatches – To further reflect developing smart technology, particularly wearable tech. As we have seen the increase in home exercising, consumers could be using this equipment to help monitor their pace and fitness during home workouts.
Smart or Wi-Fi light bulbs – As we have spent more time at home, many of us have spent money and time on making improvements to our living space, including the use of home technology like this.
Casual clothing – For many of us, our homeworking uniform is somewhat more casual than what we might have worn in the office. Men’s loungewear and women’s sweatshirts have been added to the basket to reflect the move towards more casual clothing.
Hybrid and electric cars – This reflects the increase in sales of hybrid and electric cars and the longer term move to end the sale of new petrol and diesel cars by 2030.
Coming out of the 2021 basket:
White chocolate bars – Replaced by malted chocolate sweets, such as Maltesers, which attract higher spending and improve the balance across different brands and types of confectionery.
Ground coffee – Coffee sachets replace this item, reflecting a trend towards all-in-one beverages.
Axminster and Wilton carpets – These have been removed from the basket because research and anecdotal evidence from retailers has indicated that this type of carpet is used mainly in commercial premises now.
Commenting on this year’s basket of goods, ONS Head of Economic Statistics Sam Beckett said:
“The pandemic has impacted on our behaviour as consumers, and this has been reflected in the 2021 inflation basket of goods.
“The need for hygiene on the go has seen the addition of hand sanitiser, now a staple item for many of us. Lockdown living has seen demand for home exercise equipment rise, while spending more time within our own four walls has also encouraged us to invest in smart technologies.
“A more casual approach to clothing, as more of us work from home, has seen the addition of loungewear into the consumer basket.
“These annual changes are only a small percentage of the items sampled. This year we’ve added 17 items, removed 10 and left 729 unchanged.”