14 March 2022

Pet collars and meat-free sausages added to inflation basket but suits out

14 March 2022

The work-from-home shift due to the Covid-19 pandemic has claimed men’s suits from the basket of goods used to calculate inflation, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) has said.

Economists at the agency have also removed doughnuts and coal from the list of products followed for price increases.

In their place are pet collars and antibacterial surface wipes as households embraced new cleaning habits and lockdowns led to a boom in pet ownership.

And in a sign of the rise of people eating less meat, meat-free sausages and canned pulses have also been added.

The ONS said sports bras will also now be included in the basket of goods.

Consumer price inflation (CPI) is the main measure of inflation in the UK and has been rising strongly as economies open up after the pandemic lockdowns.

Global supply chains and shortages of raw materials have pushed up prices, alongside rising oil and gas prices – leaving inflation at 5.5% in January.

The Bank of England predicts it could hit 7% by the spring, while economists warn it could breach 8% as the Ukrainian conflict impacts even more prices.

The ONS’s basket has around 180,000 separate price quotations collected each month, covering around 730 representative consumer goods and services.

It said: “New items have been introduced to diversify the range of products collected for already established groupings.

“For example, meat-free sausages have been added to expand the range of “free-from” products in the basket, reflecting the growth in vegetarianism and veganism.

“Antibacterial surface wipes have been added to the list of cleaning products to represent current cleaning trends together with the demand for antibacterial products in response to the coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic.

“Several new items have been introduced to represent specific markets where consumer spending is significant or growing and existing items may not adequately represent price changes for such goods.

“For example, frozen Yorkshire puddings have been added as there is currently no representative frozen cereal item in the index.

“A pet collar has been introduced because of increased consumer spending on pet accessories linked to the rise in pet ownership more generally since the start of the coronavirus pandemic.”

Other changes also include replacing double beds with king-sized ones; a tweak in the way children’s clothes are monitored to measure prices for those aged three to 13, instead of 18 months to 13 years old previously.

On men’s suits, the ONS said the removal was due to a few retailers no longer selling suit sets. Instead, men’s suits will be replaced with a formal jacket or blazer.

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