Blog: Dean BestPlums and parmesan - the UK's new shopping basket

Dean Best | 24 March 2009

Waking up this morning was, quite literally, a deflating experience.

The UK's breakfast TV screens were dominated by one word – deflation. The consensus was that, upon publication of the country's latest inflation figures, we would be slipping into negative territory for the first time in almost 50 years.

Not so. When the data was released later this morning, it showed that the retail prices index was flat on the year to February – that is at 0.0%, compared to 0.1% in the 12 months to January.

The consumer prices index, which excludes mortgage payments and housing costs, rose to 3.2% in the year to February, up from 3.0% a month earlier. The higher price of fruit, veg, meat and bread and cereals was cited to explain the increase.

Of course, with falling energy prices continuing to feed into the system in the form of falling utility bills, the UK is still headed towards deflation, which, if it persists for a number of months, could have a worrying impact on consumer spending.

For now, the UK's statisticians have added a clutch of food items to the nation's “basket of goods” that they use to calculate inflation.

Plums, parmesan, fresh double cream and individual pots of yoghurt have been added to the basket to reflect the UK's changing consumer patterns.

Once again, a sign, perhaps, that UK consumers are standing up to the recession by staying in and eating the finer things in life....


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