South Africa’s consumer inflation falls to lowest reading in 15 years

South Africa’s annual consumer price inflation fell to its lowest reading since September 2004, dragged lower mainly by falling fuel prices, according to data from Statistics South Africa.

The Consumer Price Index (CPI), which measures the prices of a range of consumer goods and services, increased by 2.1% in May 2020 compared with May 2019.

The reading for September 2004, 15 years and eight months ago, was 1.3%, the stats body said.

The monthly change in the CPI (from April 2020 to May 2020) was -0.6%.

Fuel a major drag on CPI

The most significant price move in May was the fall in fuel prices, StatsSA said.

The fuel index slumped by 12.2% from April. The transport category – which includes fuel, running costs, vehicle purchases and public transport – was the only contributor to the -0.6% monthly change in the CPI.

The fuel index is 25.9% lower than it was in May 2019. As a motorist, you are paying less for petrol than you did a year ago. The price of inland 95-octane petrol, for example, was R12.22 per litre in May 2020. In May 2019, the price was R16.67.

Meat and dairy prices are up, but beverages are cheaper

Food and non-alcoholic beverages prices edged up by a monthly average of 0.3% in May, for the third consecutive month. Annual inflation for this category was 4.4%, identical to April’s reading.

Meat prices climbed by 5.5% over the past 12 months, but registered a 0.1% fall between April and May. Stewing beef prices are 2.1% lower than they were in April.

Prices of dairy products climbed by 3.7% from April and by 7.1% from May 2019. The oils and fats index rose by 2,3% from April, recording an annual rise of 8.3%.

Margarine prices saw a monthly increase of 3.6%.

Peanut butter was 5.8% more expensive in May compared with April, recording an annual rise of 16.3%.

Decreases were seen across most non-alcoholic beverage products with an overall month-on-month price drop of 2.4%.

Prices for hot beverages, such as tea and coffee, fell by 1.9% between April and May, with instant coffee prices in particular declining by 4.2%. Cold beverage prices fell by 2.7% over the same period.


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South Africa’s consumer inflation falls to lowest reading in 15 years