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What’s in the 2021 inflation shopping basket?

31/03/2021

Smartwatches, dumbbells and hand sanitiser have been added to a basket of goods used to calculate the cost of living in the UK – showcasing how spending habits have changed during a year of lockdown.

The Consumer Price Inflation Basket of Goods and Services is published by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) every year. It is updated to reflect consumer spending habits and calculate the cost of living in Britain.

This year’s basket highlights that health and safety has been at the forefront of British minds as the nation grapples with the COVID-19 pandemic.

Other additions include hybrid and electric cars, men’s loungewear bottoms and smart technology including smart lightbulbs and speakers.

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What is the national shopping basket?

This virtual “shopping basket” is reviewed every year to ensure it continues to accurately measure the changing cost of products and services over time and reflects the changing tastes and habits of UK consumers. Some items are taken out of the basket, some are brought in, and others remain unchanged.

Inflation is calculated by the ONS by monitoring monthly changes to the cost of 180,000 goods and services from around the UK, including online and telephone.
The basket takes lifestyle changes into account and this year is heavily influenced by how the public has reacted to the coronavirus outbreak.

This year, 17 items have been added to the basket, 10 removed and 729 unchanged.

 

What has been added to the basket?

The world as we knew it has changed in ways we never could have imagined in the last 12 months.

Unsurprisingly this has had an impact on the basket contents as Brits were forced to spend more time at home – from working to working out

It’s a case of hands, pace and place when it comes to this year’s update. So, what are the main additions to 2021’s basket?

• Hand sanitiser: A handbag staple for many over the last 12 months, this addition reflects the increased spend on portable products of this nature.

Home weights: Working out at home has become the norm for fitness fans as national restrictions forced gyms to close. The ONS says this area of spending shows a trend for healthier living.

Smartwatches: The increase in home exercising and a growing interest in health and wellness has seen an increase in people turning to smartwatches to monitor their pace and fitness.

Casual clothing: Being at home more has also changed our daily working uniform. Men’s loungewear and women’s sweatshirts have been added to the basket to reflect the move towards more casual clothing.

Smart lightbulbs: As home renovations continue to keep idle hands occupied during lockdown and stay at home restrictions, more people have opted for smart Wi-Fi lightbulbs.

Hybrid or electric cars: While not an every day purchase the ONS says the addition of hybrid or electric cars reflects an increase in sales and the longer-term move to the end of new petrol and diesel cars by 2030.

 

What’s coming out of the basket?

White chocolate bars: White chocolate is being replaced by malted chocolate sweets, such as Maltesers, which attract higher spending and improve the balance across different brands and types of confectionery.

Office canteen sandwiches: As working from home has become the norm for many, sales of canteen sandwiches have plummeted.

Gold chains: The gold chain enjoyed a surge in popularity following the hit BBC Three drama Normal People, but dwindling sales have dropped gold chains from the basket.

Ground coffee: Coffee sachets replace this item, reflecting a trend towards all-in-one beverages.

Axminster and Wilton carpets: As this carpet is used mainly in commercial premises now this has been removed from the basket.

 

Pandemic has impacted spending

Commenting on the 2021 basket of goods, ONS head of economic statistics, Sam Beckett, said: “The pandemic has impacted on our behaviour as consumers, and this has been reflected in the 2021 inflation basket of goods.

“The need for hygiene on the go has seen the addition of hand sanitiser, now a staple item for many of us. Lockdown living has seen demand for home exercise equipment rise, while spending more time within our own four walls has also encouraged us to invest in smart technologies.

“A more casual approach to clothing, as more of us work from home, has seen the addition of loungewear into the consumer basket.

“These annual changes are only a small percentage of the items sampled. This year we’ve added 17 items, removed 10 and left 729 unchanged.”

How has the basket changed over the years?

For seven decades the Office for National Statistics has been using a notional ‘Basket of Goods and Services’ to help measure the rising and falling cost of products and services over time.

But how has the basket changed over the decades? Here we explore stand out additions, reminiscing about some of the once household favourites that are now forgotten.

1940s: Condensed milk, three-piece suits, corsets, corned beef

1950s: Washing machine, NHS prescriptions

1960s: Fish fingers, fridge

1970s: Smash, Party Seven Beer, cassette recorder

1980s: Duvet, Cinzano, muesli, salad cream, microwave, VHS

1990s: Fromage frais, CD players

2000s: Chicken nuggets, MP3 players, sat navs, Freeview boxes

2010 and beyond: Garlic bread, sweet potatoes, tablet computers, E-cigarette refills, protein powder, women’s exercise leggings

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