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Vampire Fiction, Apple iPad, now Official Inflation Benchmarks in Britain
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Early this week, the Office for National Statistics (ONS), U.K. confirmed that they have made the annual revision of the list of goods watched for tracking price changes due to inflation. Sales and prices of these goods are realistic indicators of lifestyle changes of the consumer community, and also serve as a gauge for finding trends related to consumer tastes.

The ONS statement said, “Tablets have been added as they represent a significant and growing market. Fiction was previously covered by children’s and adult books, but with the growing popularity of many titles aimed specifically at teenagers, this new item has been added to the basket.” Incidentally, “basket” is the term used by officials in the agency to refer to the public’s consumer shopping basket – goods that are most frequently found on shopping lists.

Changes in lifestyle have also made the ONS move certain items out of the list as they are no more considered sufficient markers of consumer spending or inflation. Such goods include items like glass casserole dishes, or the costs of developing photographic films.

  
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The ONS ‘basket’ has been undergoing frequent changes of late due to corresponding changes in technology and adoption of new lifestyle elements by consumers. While color film processing is no more a commonly used item due to the influx of digital cameras, popularity of products like the iPad and Samsung’s Galaxy Tab made tablet PCs enter the ‘basket.’

Food habit changes of the general population are also reflected in the new revision of the ‘basket’ with new items like Guinness (beer), soft continental cheese, take-away chicken and chips, mobile smartphones and apps etcetera earning ONS approval.

One of the eyebrow raisers last year was the inclusion of ‘dating agency fees’ something that ONS found to be an item over which there was sufficiently large and frequent consumer spending to attract inclusion as a national inflation benchmark item.

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The ONS keeps track of the sales and prices of thousands of such items to find indicators to the economy.





 

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