Alexa joins inflation basket of goods

Alexa has talked her way into the basket of items used to calculate inflation, with smart speakers, flavoured tea and electric toothbrushes joining the list, while envelopes, three-piece suites and hi-fi systems are dropping out, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) has revealed

The influence of cooking shows on TV means baking trays, peanut butter, and shop-bought popcorn have also been added to the basket of goods which is used to help measure the changing cost of products and services over time.

The list is updated annually to reflect consumer behaviour and showing the changing tastes and habits of the UK.

The ONS says this year’s additions point to some of trends impacting on the habits of consumers, for example, the way in which they are using new technology. Purchasing patterns also influenced the update with, for example, non-leather settees replacing three-piece suites, as sitting room furniture has been much less likely to be sold in sets in recent years.

Other items added to the 2018 basket include dinner plates, washing liquid or gel, dog treats, and a children’s fiction book for 6- to 12-year-olds, but washing powder, crockery sets and complete dry dog food have all been taken out.

ONS senior statistician Philip Gooding said: ‘We want to reflect modern spending habits, and the alterations we have made highlight shifting consumer behaviour, whether that is in technology, the home or the way we communicate with one another.

‘It is important to remember that we change a small percentage of the overall basket. This year we have added 16 items, removed 10 and modified 16, while leaving 688 unchanged.’

Consumer price inflation basket of goods and services: 2019 is here.

Report by Pat Sweet

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