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Sunday, Apr 18, 2021

The daily grind: Coffee, white chocolate and office sandwiches are out as UK adjusts its price basket to reflect Covid realities

The daily grind: Coffee, white chocolate and office sandwiches are out as UK adjusts its price basket to reflect Covid realities

Men’s lounge pants and women’s sweatshirts are in, so too coffee bags and hand sanitizer. And ground coffee, white chocolate and office sandwiches are out, reflecting how life has changed under Covid, UK officials say.
The Office for National Statistics (ONS), which puts together the official shopping basket of goods to determine inflation and prices for the UK, has had to adjust to reflect more people working from home and safety precautions because of a year of living through the coronavirus pandemic.

The cost of lounge pants and women’s sweatshirts are now included in the basket while gold chains have been removed – reflecting the fact that fewer are dressing formally to attend work.

Office sandwiches, once a staple of the workplace, have been removed. More convenience foods such as couscous, more frozen vegetables and ready-to-eat meals have been added, reflecting the fact Britons can’t eat out for now.

The ONS also added in hand weights and electronic exercise watches, reflecting the fact that more Britons are exercising at home with gyms closed under Covid-19 restrictions.

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

The ONS passed on adding the cost of buying masks to the national shopping basket, saying their use would likely decline once a large proportion of the UK population have been vaccinated. They did, however, add in the cost of hand sanitizers.

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

“Spending more time within our own four walls has also encouraged us to invest in smart technologies,” Beckett said. For the first time, the ONS has included hybrid and electric cars. Reflecting a shift away from petrol and diesel models, while it added smart light bulbs because people were making home improvements during lockdown.

The ONS collects around 180,000 separate price quotations monthly on 720 representative consumer goods and services from 140 locations across the UK and online to compile the Consumer Price Index.
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