High demand pandemic goods rise four times above rate of inflation

Dry pasta/spaghetti saw the most notable price increase in the index, rising 8.6 per cent month-on-month in March.
Ryan McAleer

THE price of household goods in high demand since the onset of the coronavirus pandemic increased four times the rate of inflation in March, according to new analysis.

UK Consumer Price Inflation (CPI) fell from 1.7 per cent in February to 1.5 per cent in March, on the back of falling clothes and motor fuel prices.

But Ulster Bank has produced its own ‘lockdown index' of hotly sought shopping items during the Covid-19 pandemic.

The lender said items in the list rose four times the overall CPI rate of inflation last month.

Dry pasta/spaghetti saw the most notable price increase in the index, rising 8.6 per cent month-on-month. The cost of basmati rice increased 5.3 per-cent in the same timeframe, baked beans rose in price by 0.9 per cent and toilet roll increased by 0.2 per cent.

But according to the analysis, some hard to find items actually fell in value in the month, such as liquid soap, which fell 0.9 per cent. But the price was up 2.3 per cent on the year.

Some other notable price changes reported in the latest CPI inflation figures include a year-on-year rise of 5.7 per cent in the price of breakfast cereals and an increase of 11.3 per cent year-on-year in the price of ice-cream. Meanwhile diesel was down 5.3 per cent year-on-year and petrol prices fell 0.7 per cent on the year.

Ulster Bank's chief economist Richard Ramsey said the volatility was unsurprising given the rapid change in consumer spending habits in response to coronavirus.

“One thing consumers should bear in mind though is that CPI figures provide an average, and the prices consumers pay for items will vary depending on where they buy them.

“We would also assume that the intense fears that drove stockpiling in recent times have now passed given that supply chains have held up relatively well and demand from some of the items in the index will therefore settle to more normal levels over the months ahead,” he added.

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