By David Milliken
LONDON (Reuters) – Pet collars and casual clothing are replacing takeaway doughnuts and men’s two-piece suits this year as Britain’s statisticians update their inflation calculations to account for pandemic trends.
The biggest changes to the inflation basket for 2022 are around food after people ate more at home last year, and increasingly chose plant-based options.
Vegetarian sausages, canned chickpeas, beans and lentils, dried herbs and frozen readymade Yorkshire puddings have all joined the list.
Anti-bacterial wipes are included for the first time.
The main food item leaving is the single doughnut because Britons have switched to buying multipacks of cakes and pastries to enjoy at home, rather than individual sweet bakery items to snack on while out.
The pandemic has also affected fashion.
“With many people still working from home, demand for more formal clothing has continued to decrease,” Office for National Statistics head of economic statistics Sam Beckett said.
Women’s sports bras and crop tops have been added to reflect new spending on sportswear while men’s formal two-piece suits will be replaced by jackets or blazers, which are more widely stocked.
Collars for dogs and cats have been added to reflect greater pet ownership during the pandemic.
Leaving the basket are reference books such as dictionaries and road atlases as people look up similar information online, although cookery books and travel guides remain for now.
Consumer price inflation in Britain is calculated using a basket of more than 700 goods and services which are changed each year to try to keep up with new spending patterns.
With inflation at a 30-year high, the process has come under added scrutiny due to concern that product selections do not adequately reflect the spending choices of poorer people.
The ONS confirmed on Monday that it was making two changes to try to address this, in addition to the normal annual adjustments to the inflation basket.
Later this month people will be able to use a tool on the ONS website to calculate a ‘personal’ inflation rate that more closely matches their spending patterns.
From 2024 the ONS will include use a far wider range of prices from supermarket tills. This will make it easier to see, for example, if cheaper brands of pasta are rising in price faster or more slowly than expensive ones.
(Reporting by David Milliken; Editing by William Schomberg)