8 things that are more expensive in South Africa – and 3 that got cheaper

 ·18 May 2022

Statistics South Africa has published its latest consumer price index, showing that annual headline inflation remained flat at 5.9%, unchanged from March.

The consumer price index increased by 0.6% month-on-month in April 2022, Stats SA said.

The main contributors to the 5.9% annual inflation rate were food and non-alcoholic beverages; housing and utilities; transport; and miscellaneous goods and services.

  • Food and non-alcoholic beverages increased by 6.0% year on year and contributed 1.0 percentage point to the total CPI annual rate of 5.9%.
  • Housing and utilities increased by 4.8% year on year and contributed 1.2 percentage points.
  • Transport increased by 14.7% year on year and contributed 2.0 percentage points.
  • Miscellaneous goods and services increased by 3.8% year on year and contributed 0.6 of a percentage point.

In April the annual inflation rate for goods was 8.5%, down from 8.7% in March; and for services, it was 3.5%, up from 3.4% in March.

As has been the trend for much of 2022, surging fuel prices are adding inflationary pressure to all segments of the economy. Fuel prices are 29.2% higher than they were last year, pushing up public transport costs by 12.6%.

Fuel prices have been impacted by the Russian invasion of Ukraine, which has also put price pressure on the cost of cooking oil. In the CPI basket, fats and oils have seen the second-highest price jump – after fuel – of 21.2%

Some of the largest annual price increases above headline inflation (April 2021 vs April 2022) were recorded for the following goods and services:

  1. Fuel: +29.2%
  2. Oils and fats: +21.2%
  3. Electricity and other fuels: +14.1%
  4. Public transport: +12.6%
  5. Meat: +8.5%
  6. Wine: +7.7%
  7. Beer: +7.3%
  8. Other foods: +7.1%

While inflation remains high, at the upper end of the South African Reserve Bank’s target range, some prices have come down over the last year.

Within the food basket, fruit is tracking slightly lower at -0.7%, while package holidays in the recreation and culture basket are also down 2.2% – though this may be a seasonal trend.

The biggest drop in the basket is within telecommunication equipment, where prices are down a significant 14.5% year on year, Stats SA’s data showed.

  1. Telecommunication equipment: -14.5%
  2. Package holidays: -2.2%
  3. Fruit: -0.7%

Food prices

Food prices, generally, are still tracking above headline inflation at 6.2%.

The Household Affordability Index by the Pietermaritzburg Economic Justice & Dignity group (PMBEJD) for April 2022 showed that essential food items in the country were higher for the month, up 8.2% year on year.

The group recorded its Household Food Basket at R4,542.93 in April 2022. Month-on-month, the average cost of the basket increased by R92.84 (2.9%), from R4,450.09 in March 2022. Year-on-year, basket increased by R344.00 (8.2%), from R4,198.93 in April 2021.

According to the PMBEJD, the cost of the household food basket continues to rise due to both global and local factors, with worse still to come.

The ongoing war in Ukraine continues to be the biggest global driver of higher food prices, with knock-on effects on energy prices – particularly the high brent crude oil price, which leads to higher fuel prices. The weaker rand is also a factor.

“Much higher production and logistical costs will continue to drive prices upwards and are likely to continue rising for the rest of 2022,” the PMBEJD said.

The recent flooding in KwaZulu-Natal was not accounted for in the group’s April data – as prices were collected before the rains – but the natural disaster will also undoubtedly add to increases going forward.

Read: How much you’re paying for petrol, electricity and food in South Africa versus a year ago

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