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Suits out, sports bras in as the Office for National Statistics shakes the basket used to calculate inflation

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Men’s suits are out and sports bras and crop tops are in as the basket of goods used by official statisticians to calculate price increases undergoes its annual shake-up.

The changes made by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) reflect consumer spending patterns that are still being reshaped by the pandemic.

The disappearance of men’s suits, in favor of smart jackets or blazers, reflects the continued popularity of working from home, while the appearance of the sports bra is linked to the growth of exercise, the ONS said.

Its inflation basket of more than 700 items is designed to be “representative of the goods and services consumers typically spend their money on” and shows their “changing tastes and habits.”

Sam Beckett, head of economic statistics at ONS, said the latest reconfiguration showed “the impact of the pandemic is still evident in our buying habits”.

“With many people still working from home, the demand for more formal wear has continued to decline,” he said.

“So, men’s suits go out of the basket and are replaced by a formal jacket or a blazer.

“Last year’s lockdown life saw an increase in the number of people exercising and working out.

“That has continued into 2022 with the addition of the sports bra to the basket, reflecting increased spending on sportswear.”

Other changes include the departure of the single donut basket as single bake sales declined in favor of multi-packs, another shift attributed to home-based work.

Meanwhile, the continuing high demand for antibacterial products is driving the addition of surface wipes.

A boom in pet ownership during the pandemic has seen dog and cat collars make the list.

Other social changes are also being reflected: with the increasing adoption of vegan and vegetarian diets, meaning canned beans, chickpeas and lentils are being added, as well as meatless sausages.

The switch from coal sees the once-ubiquitous household fuel reduced ahead of a ban on its domestic use next year as part of action to combat climate change, the ONS said.

The statistics agency said this year it had added 19 items to the basket, while removing 15 and leaving 715 unchanged.

Meanwhile, he revealed more details of plans to change the way it presents and calculates UK inflation figures.

With Britain facing its Highest cost of living increases in three decadesit has been pressured by claims that the statistics do not reflect the extent of the pressure felt by the most disadvantaged.

The ONS said that along with the February inflation figures, due to be released next week, it would launch a personal inflation calculator for people to calculate their own experience.

It is also moving to improve data sources by working with retailers to get price “scanner data” straight from the box, to include in headline inflation data from 2024.


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