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ONS identifies new products as key to measuring inflation

23 March 2015 - 10:39 by Graham Miller

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The Office for National Statistics (ONS) has carried out its annual update to the theoretical shopping basket of items that it tracks, to work out how consumer habits are changing and how inflation is affecting the economy.

The Guardian reports that a number of new products are now included in the ONS' calculations, while others have fallen by the wayside this year, going the way of DVD players and other once relevant gadgets.

One of the most interesting new inclusions is craft beer, which has risen in popularity across the UK, as more and more people turn to microbreweries rather than the major drinks manufacturers to get their fill.

Meanwhile, the big increase in the number of people buying mobile phone peripherals, including cases, charging cables and other items associated with this industry, has helped such accessories to join the ONS basket.

E-cigarettes are another new addition, which is unsurprising, given the popularity of these devices which many use as an alternative to smoking traditional cigarettes. At first people were predominantly buying e-cigarettes via safe shopping online, but now stores and even cafes dedicated to their sale and use have been set up nationwide.

The rise of smartphones has led to the decline in satnav sales, since drivers can now call upon their portable handset to help find their way from A to B. As such, the ONS has eliminated standalone navigation devices from its considerations.

The ONS has been collecting data on inflation using this product-oriented approach for close to seven decades and there are over 700 items in the basket at the moment. The increase in people carrying out safe shopping online has allowed new gadgets and gizmos to enter the fray, although some items have a short lived time in the spotlight.