Changes made to ONS’ Basket of Goods and Services

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The basket of goods, which is used to calculate the UK’srate of inflation, has had its annual overhaul – with tablet computers and teenagefiction going in the basket, while developing colour film has come out.

Updated annually by the Office for National Statistics (ONS),the CPIand RPI Basket of Goods and Services (external website) contains over 700 items for which the prices are collected every month. Trackingthese prices ensures that CPI and RPI are up-to-date and representative of consumer spendingpatterns. Movements in the CPI and RPI represent the changing cost of therepresentative shopping basket.

Itemsgoing into the basket include baby wipes to represent ‘cleansers on the go’; bundled communicationpackages comprising telephone services, internet access and televisionsubscriptions; tablet computers (over the years more computer equipment hasbeen added including desktop personal computers and laptops); and teenage fictionnow warrants its own category as there has been an increase in spend in thisarea.

Withinfood and drink, pineapples have been added as there are variable price changesin fresh fruit and drink. Other additions include hot oat cereal, soft continentalcheese and stout.

Althoughthe RPI and CPI baskets have very similar contents, 2012 sees the addition of trade union andprofessional organisation subscriptions to the CPI basket. This is alreadyin the RPI basket and the CPI addition is a result of user need including Europe.

The weights of each product group also change annually and for2012, alcohol has a slightly lower weighting in the RPI basket than last year (56compared to 60) while leisure services have increased in weight from 64 to 71. Weightsare specified as parts per 1000 of the all items RPI.

Changes are made to broaden or widen the coverage of aparticular group of items. The changes to the basket will be introduced withthe February 2012 consumer price indices published on 20 March.

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