South Africa has updated its inflation basket – what’s in and what’s out

 ·31 Jan 2022

Statistics South Africa has updated its Consumer Price Index (CPI) basket of goods and services, providing insight into how consumer spending patterns have shifted over the five years.

South Africa’s CPI basket is typically reviewed every four to five years to ensure that it adequately reflects trends in household spending, technology and consumer tastes.

The process involves removing items that are no longer relevant and adding new items that have attracted a sizable share of consumer expenditure.

In the most recent update – published in January 2022 and referencing the year 2019 – the CPI basket will now contain 415 items, up from 404 in 2016. A total of fourteen new items were added, while two items were removed from the basket. Some products were either split into two or combined into one.

The changes 

Changes in consumer technologies have a large impact on the composition of the basket. In this update, DVD players and satellite dishes are out of the basket, while soundbars and speakers are included. In the 2016 update, rewritable CDs and postage stamps were removed from the basket.

A few tweaks were also made to items already in the basket. With growth in the use of data services, the item ‘internet usage’ was split into wired (e.g. fibre) and wireless (e.g. cellular) forms of access.

Energy-saving and traditional lightbulbs, previously listed as separate items, were amalgamated into one product following the near disappearance of incandescent bulbs. The item ‘pre-recorded CDs’ was renamed ‘CDs, subscription and streaming music’ to reflect the growth in consumer appetite for streaming music services.

Gin is the only new inclusion in the alcoholic beverages category, reflecting its growing popularity among consumers in South Africa. Cappuccino sachets have also entered the basket, as well as dairy/fruit juice blends, samp, pureed baby food and jam.

Personal care products such as razors, wipes and make-up (foundation) made the grade as well, together with household items such as floor and wall tiles and fabric softener.

“The inflation basket is the bedrock from which the consumer price index (CPI) is calculated. Prices for all items in the basket are collected on a regular basis. Stats SA measures the changes in these prices to calculate the inflation rate, or the change in the cost of living,” Stats SA said.

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