Vinyl records and air fryers added to inflation measureon March 11, 2024 at 3:00 pm

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Vinyl music sales – led by Taylor Swift’s success – return to the basket of goods used to track prices.

Taylor Swift at 2024 Golden Globes awardsImage source, EPA

Vinyl music sales – led by the soaring success of Taylor Swift – have been recognised by statisticians who calculate the rising cost of living.

After more than 30 years, vinyl records have returned to the basket of goods used by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) to track prices and work out the rate of inflation.

Air fryers have also been added to the virtual basket in its annual review.

But hand sanitiser, a must-have of the Covid years, has been taken out.

The Swift effect

The influence of singer-songwriter Swift is not confined to the world of music where she has megastar status. Her mere presence at American football games to watch her boyfriend Travis Kelce has been credited with raising NFL viewing figures.

Now that influence seems to have spread to the rock and roll world of economic statistics.

Her album 1989 (Taylor’s Version) was the best-selling vinyl LP of last year, followed by the Rolling Stones’ Hackney Diamonds.

UK sales of vinyl LPs hit their highest level since 1990, increasing for the 16th year in a row, according to the British Phonographic Industry (BPI) trade group.

So, for the first time since 1992, when the likes of Wet Wet Wet and Shakespears Sister were top of the charts, records are back in the ONS’s inflation basket.

Rightly so, according to Adriaan Neervoort, owner of Wanted Music, in Beckenham, Kent, who said: “Vinyl has a more engaging human sound, it comes beautifully packaged. People want to know more about music and they want to engage with it more.”

The basket contains more than 700 goods and services. The cost of these items in many different outlets are gathered by the ONS to give the monthly inflation figures. The latest show prices rising at 4% a year, down from a recent peak of 11% in 2022.

Graphic showing what's in and out of the inflation basket

In itself, the rate of inflation is an important measure used in government pledges, during decisions about uprating benefits and pensions, and quoted during pay negotiations. It is also crucial for the interest people pay to borrow money. The Bank of England has a target of keeping inflation at 2% when it sets interest rates.

The basket of goods also offers an insight into our fashions and spending habits.

Wild rabbit was one item included in the first list of 1947. Tea bags only made it in by 1980.

The ONS reviews the basket once a year, and the changes it makes are only a small percentage of the items sampled.

A basket of chicken nuggets, cooked in an air-fryer

Image source, Getty Images

This time, 16 items have been added, and 15 removed. Among the newcomers are air fryers, signalling their popularity among households trying to reduce their energy use and costs.

Healthy living is reflected, with the addition of spray oils and rice cakes as well as sunflower and pumpkin seeds. Women’s socks were considered under-represented, so have been added.

While squeezed household budgets affected what has gone into the basket, the lessening influence of the pandemic and lockdowns is seen in what has been taken out.

Demand for hand hygiene gel has fallen and so is given less space on shop shelves. It has been removed from the basket.

So too has bakeware – popular when people were unable to go out, but actually taken out of the basket because the ONS considered it over-represented among household items.

Also going are sofa beds, with pull-out beds becoming more popular, as well as hot rotisserie-cooked whole chicken, and draught stout – because its price movements are very similar to draught bitter.

Matt Corder from the ONS said its 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,” he added.

While more than four-fifths of recorded music is consumed via streaming, vinyl has made a huge comeback, with fans seeing it as more collectible and having better sound quality.

Cost of living: Tackling it together

How can I save money on my food shop?

  • Look at your cupboards so you know what you have already
  • Head to the reduced section first to see if it has anything you need
  • Buy things close to their best before date which will be cheaper and use your freezer

Read more tips here.

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