Vinyl returns to basket of goods to check inflation but Guinness is out

Air fryers, gluten-free bread and rice cakes have also been added to the ‘inflation basket’

Vinyl records on the left, with a pint of Guinness on the right.
A pint of Guinness in a pub will no longer be taken into account when estimating how high inflation is, but vinyl is back on the list for the first time in 32 years

A pint of Guinness in a pub and bottles of hand sanitiser will no longer be taken into account when estimating how high inflation is, the UK’s official statistics body has said.

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) said it would remove those and other items, but is re-introducing vinyl to its list for the first time in 32 years, and was also adding air fryers.

Every month, the ONS measures inflation – that is to say how past prices are increasing, or decreasing – for UK households.

To do that the statisticians need to figure out what households normally buy. They have what they call a “basket” of more than 740 different goods and services that they think people buy.

But over time what people buy changes and the ONS has to make changes to that list. For instance, in 1992, as CDs and cassettes increased in popularity, the ONS removed vinyl records from the basket.

Those tables have now turned. More than three decades later, vinyl has become trendy again and is added to the list for this year, and the cassette tape is nowhere to be seen.

Another addition to the list is a result of the energy crisis. As energy bills soared, people turned to the air fryer, with manufacturers saying they are a lower-energy way of cooking.

There is a happier sign of the times in the removals from the list, as hand sanitisers were removed. Hand sanitisers were added to the basket in 2021, to reflect how the Covid-19 pandemic was changing peoples’ shopping habits. This year they have been removed.

Some removals from the list are less about what people are buying less of, and more that the ONS does not think it needs to track the price of that item specifically.

That is the case for Guinness. This year, draught stout has been removed from the list, because the price of draught stout and draught bitter often move together. Therefore the ONS does not think it needs to track both of them.

Other additions to the list this year include gluten-free bread, rice cakes, sunflower and pumpkin seeds, and women’s socks.

Other removals from the list are popcorn, loose cooked ham, hot rotisserie cooked whole chicken, sofa beds – as pull-out beds become more popular, and bakeware.

ONS deputy director for prices, Matt Corder, said: “Our inflation basket of goods offers a fascinating snapshot of consumer spending through the years.

“Often the basket reflects the adoption of new technology, but the return of vinyl records shows how cultural revivals can affect our spending.

“We are also seeing the impact of the pandemic fading from the basket with the removal of hand sanitiser due to decreased demand.

“Healthier lifestyle products continue to influence consumer choice reflected by the addition of the air fryer, spray oils and rice cakes as well as sunflower and pumpkin seeds.”