Tinned beans and meat-free sausages added to cost of living measure
Demand for workout gear and health-conscious vegetarian options are now being used to calculate the change in the cost of living in the UK.
Items such as tinned beans, boosted by a rise in plant-based diets, have also been added to the basket of goods used to measure prices.
The review by the Office for National Statistics also saw pet collars added. But men’s suits and doughnuts are out as homeworking has shifted how we dress and snack during Covid lockdowns.
The ONS said it decided to add meat-free sausages to the basket of more than 700 goods, which is used to calculate how the cost of living is changing, to reflect a boost in demand for healthier food options.
It also said that the removal of a men’s two-piece suit, and the addition of sports bras and crop tops, accounted for the fact that spending on formal clothes has been falling, as well as a “heightened awareness of fitness”.
“With many people still working from home, demand for more formal clothing has continued to decrease,” ONS head of economic statistics Sam Beckett said.
Since the start of the pandemic, retailers such as Boohoo and Asos have reported a boost in sales for loungewear items such as joggers or hoodies too.
In total, 19 items were added while 15 have been removed.
Anti-bacterial wipes, as well as craft and hobby kits for adults, were included in the basket of goods for the first time.
Pet collars for dogs and cats were also added “to reflect the growth in pet accessories linked to the increase in pet ownership more generally during the pandemic”, ONS said.
On Monday, research from the Resolution Foundation think tank suggested that the war could see another spike in the cost of living this autumn.
It said that inflation, which tracks how the cost of living changes over time, could reach 10% for the poorest households, whose energy and food bills make up a bigger proportion of their budgets.
With inflation at the highest level seen in 30 years, the ONS’s methodology has come under extra scrutiny because of the concern that product selections don’t reflect purchases made by those on lower incomes.
The ONS has confirmed it will make some changes to its calculation to address that. From 2024, it will use a far wider range of prices from supermarket tills, which should make it easier to work out if certain brands of pasta or beans, for example, are rising faster than others, after campaigning by food blogger and activist Jack Monroe.