Hand sanitisers are in and white chocolate bars are out as the basket of goods and services used to calculate inflation undergoes its latest reshuffle.

The impact of the pandemic on consumer habits is apparent in the announcement from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) which also sees casual clothing and home exercise equipment added.

Ground coffee is out – replace by coffee sachets – while the staff restaurant sandwich is also removed from the list with the number of work canteens falling.

Sam Beckett, ONS head of economic statistics, said: “The pandemic has impacted on our behaviour as consumers, and this has been reflected in the 2021 inflation basket of goods.

“The need for hygiene on the go has seen the addition of hand sanitiser, now a staple item for many of us.

“Lockdown living has seen demand for home exercise equipment rise, while spending more time within our own four walls has also encouraged us to invest in smart technologies.

“A more casual approach to clothing, as more of us work from home, has seen the addition of loungewear into the consumer basket.”

The ONS said 17 items had been added this year with 10 removed and 729 left unchanged.

It described hand sanitiser, added to the list, as “something many of us are rarely without nowadays” and said there had been increased spending on such products.

The addition of hand weights for home exercise, with gyms closed during the lockdowns, also reflected “the trend for healthier living”, the ONS said.

Smartwatches were added for similar reasons, with consumers using them to monitor their health and fitness during home workouts.

New types of “smart” or WiFi enabled light bulbs have entered the list, apparently thanks to the home improvement trend seen over the past year of lockdowns.

Casual clothes such as men’s loungewear and women’s sweatshirts have joined the list of items too as people work more from home.

Hybrid and electric cars have also been added to the list, reflecting the move away from diesel and electric vehicle sales.

The removal from the list of the white chocolate bar sees it replaced by malted chocolate sweets such as Maltesers, which the ONS said attract higher spending.

Also left out are Axminster and Wilton type carpets which evidence suggests are mainly used in commercial premises now – rather than for the consumer basket of goods and services used to compile CPI, the main measure of inflation.

(c) Sky News 2021: Hand-sanitisers popped into inflation basket as white chocolate melts away


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