Quiche in, pork pies out! UK inflation goods basket changes for 2018

Women’s exercise leggings and action cameras such as GoPros have been added to the shopping basket used to measure UK inflation, while the “bottle of lager in a nightclub” has been dropped following the closure of nightclubs across the UK in recent years.

In the annual shakeup of the shopping basket, the Office for National Statistics also added adult-supervised soft-play sessions for the first time, reflecting the popularity of soft-play areas across the UK. Children’s sit and ride toys have replaced tricycles.

The rise of the smartphone means digital camcorders have been ousted from the basket, while digital media players such as Chromecast and Apple TV have replaced digital TV recorders and receivers such as Freeview boxes.

Pork pies and edam cheese are also out, although pork pies will still be covered as part of meat-based snacks which include sausage rolls, mini Cornish pasties and scotch eggs.

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Other items added to the 2018 basket include body moisturising lotion, girl’s leggings and high chairs. Peaches and nectarines, leg waxing and ATM charges have been removed.

Senior statistician Philip Gooding said this year that 36 items were changed out of a total basket of 714.

The ONS updates the basket of goods and services once a year to reflect changes in shopping habits and Britons’ lifestyle, and uses it to calculate inflation. The headline inflation rate is currently at 3%.

What’s in for 2018

Quiche

Punnet of raspberries

Prepared mashed potato

Women’s exercise leggings

Girl’s leggings

High chair

Digital media player

Action camera

Child’s sit and ride toy

Soft play session

Cooked pastry based savoury snack

Body moisturing lotion

Televisions (39inches or smaller, 40in or larger)

Q&A

What is inflation and why does it matter?

Inflation is when prices rise. Deflation is the opposite – price decreases over time – but inflation is far more common.

If inflation is 10%, then a £50 pair of shoes will cost £55 in a year’s time and £60.50 a year after that.

Inflation eats away at the value of wages and savings – if you earn 10% on your savings but inflation is 10%, the real rate of interest on your pot is actually 0%.

A relatively new phenomenon, inflation has become a real worry for governments since the 1960s.

As a rule of thumb, times of high inflation are good for borrowers and bad for investors.

Mortgages are a good example of how borrowing can be advantageous – annual inflation of 10% over seven years halves the real value of a mortgage.

On the other hand, pensioners, who depend on a fixed income, watch the value of their assets erode.

The government’s preferred measure of inflation, and the one the Bank of England takes into account when setting interest rates, is the consumer price index (CPI).

The retail prices index (RPI) is often used in wage negotiations.

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What’s out for 2018

Pork pie

Edam cheese

Peaches/nectarines

Digital television recorder/receiver

Television (14-22 in, 23-32 in, 33in)

Digital camcorder

Child’s tricycle

Pasty/savoury pie

Bottle of lager in a nightclub

Full leg wax

ATM charges

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1940s – Condensed milk

The tinned favourite was concentrated, sweetened milk, high in protein and fat – something which may well have been useful in a ‘make do and mend’ culture during World War II, to make the rations stretch a little further. Although condensed milk was rationed, it lasted longer than fresh milk.

Condensed milk disappeared from the basket in 1987.

During those decades, fresh, pasteurised milk had become more available, after rations were lifted in 1954.

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1940 — 1950

Changing Times

When the basket was first introduced, the UK was still suffering the after-effects of World War II, rationing was still in place and cities remained crushed from the effects of Nazi bombing.

Times have changed and so has the ‘shopping basket’ of items.

As well as being a way of tracking price changes, the basket has also become an anecdotal way of following the changing tastes and habits of the nation.

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1940 — 1950

Post war

In the kitchens of 1947 you would be more likely to see a mangle than a refrigerator. In fact, the mangle didn’t fall out of the basket until 1962.

And there was no such thing as skimmed milk.

Women wore corsets to help achieve a shapely figure, and men wore three-piece suits every day – which is why they were included in the basket of 1947.

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1940 — 2016

1940s – The vacuum cleaner

The vacuum cleaner came into the basket in 1947. Although the device had been invented decades earlier, it became more widely available in the UK after World War II.

Following a series of advancements in design, Hoover launched the Constellation in 1952, described as a ‘pioneering canister vacuum cleaner’.

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1945 — 1951

1940s and 50s – Mass housebuilding programme

Between 1945 and 1951, the government increased the number of houses being built, which offered families the opportunity to move into their own new homes, full of electrical goods and luxury items, which became more readily available in the 1940s and 50s.

1947 — 2005

1940s – Corned Beef

Corned beef, which entered the 1947 basket, has been used and traded widely since the 17th century.

It was popular during both world wars because of the rationing of fresh meat. It was also included in British Navy rations.

During the war years most of the corned beef came from Uruguay, with more than 16 million cans exported in 1943. (Irish Corned Beef: A Culinary History, by Mac Con Iomaire, Máirtín; Óg Gallagher, Pádraic).

It didn’t leave the basket until 2005, when there were too many meat items in the basket. Other meats were left in to represent it.

1947 — 1961

1940s – Linoleum

Linoleum was considered a low-cost floor covering. It also entered the basket in 1947, but dates back – in one form or another – as far as 1860, when it was also used as a wall covering in Victorian homes.

It has appeared in the basket in many forms too.

Linoleum had disappeared by the time the 1961 basket came out, replaced by inlaid linoleum and then by vinyl floor coverings in 1987.

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1956 — 2016

1950s – The washing machine

The washing machine was included in the 1956 basket – a device which made the life of the overburdened 1950s housewife a little easier. It remains there to this day.

1956 — 2016

1950s – NHS prescriptions

The first NHS prescription charge was introduced in 1952 but it didn’t make it into the basket until 1956.

Prescriptions were initially free when the NHS was established in 1948, but by 1952 they were one shilling per prescription.

In 1956 a charge was levied on each item.

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1962 — 2016

1960s – Fish fingers

A staple of the British dinner table, the humble fish finger first entered the basket in 1962.

It’s still there. The fish finger was first launched in the UK by Birds Eye in 1955, after being developed in its Great Yarmouth factory. Today, in excess of 1.5 million Birds Eye fish fingers are sold each day.

Captain Birds Eye became the face of the brand in 1967 after the airing of its first commercial.

He was played by actor John Hewer until 1988.

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1962 — 2016

1960s – The refrigerator

Also in 1962, the refrigerator became part of the basket family.

The first domestic fridge was invented in 1913 in the USA, allowing families to keep food fresh for longer. And although the fridge was a common sight in USA kitchens, just 2% of households in the UK owned one in 1948.

This increased to 13% by 1959, but they were not a common sight in British kitchens until the 1960s.

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1974 — 1987

1970s – Smash

Those over the age of 30 may remember this popular ad campaign. Two alien creatures observe the humans of Earth making mashed potato the laborious, traditional way, and laugh as they prepare their own mash using granules, which is ready in seconds.

The famous For Mash Get Smash advert prompted an increase in sales of the 1960s convenience food, but it didn’t make it into the basket until 1974.

It was removed in 1987 – replaced by frozen oven chips.

1974 — 1987

1970s – Party Seven beer can

No 1970s party worth its salt would have been complete without the Party Seven beer can. For the uninitiated, it was a can, introduced in 1968 by Watney Combe and Reid, which contained seven pints of beer.

Granted, most of that was spilled in the process of opening it, but this was the 70s, this was a revolution in beer containment and it required skill to open.

Earliest available records show beer in party containers in the basket in 1974.

Unfortunately, its days were numbered on the market when ring-pull cans and plastic bottles were brought into production. It was removed from the basket in 1987.

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1976 — 1987

1970s – The cassette recorder

Electronics giant Philips introduced a prototype of its compact cassette player in 1963.

This made possible, for the first time, the production of small, battery-powered versatile and portable players.

They and other companies, including BASF, launched the cassette tape in the same year. Because of their original poor fidelity, they were marketed for voice recording and dictation. The first cassette for the hi-fi market became available in 1968, from TDK. The cassette recorder made it into the basket in 1976.

However, in 1979, music became even more portable with the launch of the Sony Walkman. By 1987, the cassette recorder had disappeared from the basket.

1980 — 2017

1980s – The duvet

There was a time, before the widespread use of the duvet, that people were tucked into bed under the weight of sheets, blankets, eiderdowns and bedspreads.

And then along came the ‘continental quilt’ as it was known then, courtesy of Habitat founder, Sir Terence Conran.

The duvet has been around for a few hundred years in mainland Europe but it never really caught on in the UK until Sir Terence’s intervention.

He is said to have discovered duvets being used in Sweden and started selling them in the UK in 1964. Gone was the need for hospital corners, with the duvet marketed as the 10-second bed, because it was that easy to make.

Sales of duvets took off in the 1980s, with manufacturer Slumberdown reporting a 40% growth in sales in 1985.

The continental quilt was included in the basket in 1980 and is still there under its more commonly used name, the duvet.

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1983 — 2000

1980s – Cinzano

From 1978 to 1983, Cinzano (a Vermouth) ran a successful advertising campaign featuring comic actor, Leonard Rossiter and Joan Collins.

Sales turnover reportedly increased by 50% and the ad campaign became iconic.

Vermouth’s tenure in the basket lasted more than a decade. By the time the 2000 basket was published, Vermouth had disappeared.

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1987 — 2017

1980s – Muesli

In 1987 the basket saw the inclusion of muesli. This breakfast cereal is said to have been developed by Swiss doctor, Maximilian Bircher-Benner for his patients. He considered a diet rich in fruit and vegetables to be a part of therapy.

The first mass produced muesli was exported to the UK in 1960 by Somalon AG.

Another obsession of the 1980s was with health and fitness, which could explain the success of muesli. Actor and comedian Lenny Henry was the face of an ad campaign for muesli brand Alpen in the late 1980s.

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1987

1980s – Changing tastes

During 1987 brie (removed in 2007), skimmed milk (removed by 2008), salad cream (removed from the basket in 2001 in favour of mayonnaise), Vermouth (removed in 2000) and Riesling wine (removed by 1993) were all included in the basket; signs of the changing tastes of British palates.

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1987 — 2008

1980s – The microwave

Another resident of the 1987 basket was arguably responsible for revolutionising the way we prepare food.

The first domestic model microwave was sold in the UK in 1974, but its origins go back to technology developed during World War II.

By the early 1980s, microwaves were becoming increasingly popular.

By 1984 there were 2.5 million in use in UK kitchens. The number increased four-fold between 1984 and 1988, with more than 1.8 million sold in 1988 alone (Gender and Technology in the Making by Cynthia Cockburn and Susan Ormrod) .

The microwave stayed in the basket until 2008.

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1987 — 2007

1980s – VHS

VHS or Betamax – it was the DVD vs Blu-ray argument of the time.

The final entry of note in the 1987 basket was the VHS video recorder. It won the popularity battle with consumers, after it was first launched in the UK in 1978, costing around £799 (around £3,880 in today’s money).

The VHS recorder grew in popularity in the 1980s, during which time a video rental industry grew for pre-recorded movies.

But the use of VHS declined following the introduction of DVDs on the commercial market in 1997. It was finally removed from the basket in 2007.

1987 — 2009

1980s – Video rental

Another example of changing times identified in the basket during the 1980s was the inclusion of video rental around 1987.

In the late 1980s and early 1990s many people sourced movies at home via a visit to to their local video rental shop.

But the growing popularity of online streaming websites such as Netflix in the mid 2000s made accessing those movies, along with hit TV series, much easier and spelled the death knell for the video rental market and the end of the Saturday pilgrimage.

Before the introduction of streaming services, the terrestrial video rental market had already been wounded by online rental services such as LoveFilm, which entered the basket in 2009.

There was also the pressure brought by the sharp fall in the average price of a DVD, which sometimes made it more cost effective to buy a DVD than rent. In 2003, DVD sales outstripped rentals for the first time.

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1993 — 2017

1990s – Fromage frais

Fromage frais is seen by some as a healthy alternative to cream and became popular as a children’s snack as consumers moved towards healthier foods as well as looking further afield to whet their appetites. (Chilled Foods: A Comprehensive Guide, by Michael Stringer and Colin Dennis).

It entered the basket in 1993 and remains there to this day.

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1997 — 2006

1990s – CD Players

The first personal CD player came in the form of the Sony ‘Discman’, introduced in 1984. This sparked a growth in the sales of CDs.

When Dire Straits released their album Brothers in Arms in 1985, their CD sales surpassed those on vinyl; an event which is marked as the beginning of the CD revolution.

The personal CD player was added to the basket around 1997 but was removed in 2006, its popularity superseded by MP3, particularly the iPod, launched in 2001.

2005 — 2017

2000s – The chicken nugget

The chicken nugget, scourge of champions of healthy eating, became one of the basket features in the noughties.

The frozen, breadcrumb-covered foodstuff, loved by some time-strapped parents went into the basket in 2005 and remains there to date.

In the same year celebrity chef Jamie Oliver fought to change the lunchtime menus of thousands of schools in the UK, which included chicken nuggets.

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2006 — 2009

2000s – MP3 Players

2006 saw the inclusion of a piece of technology which changed the way we consume and store music – the MP3 player.

Its first commercial release was in 1998.

But the landscape changed when Apple brought out the iPod in 2001; by June 2003, Apple had sold its millionth iPod. More than 275 million have been sold worldwide since then, although sales have now declined.

Smartphones have impacted the MP3 market, as most come with built-in MP3 and digital music players.

The MP3 player left the basket in 2009, replaced by MP4 players.

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2007 — 2015

2000s – Satellite navigation (Sat nav)

In 2007 the satellite navigation system was included in the basket. It too has been affected by the multiple applications available on the average smartphone.

Originally developed by the US military in the 1970s, the satellite navigation system (sat nav) began to appear built into cars in 1995, their portable cousins growing in popularity on the commercial market around 2001.

But by 2009 sales had begun to decline.

The sat nav was removed from the basket in 2015.

2009 — 2013

2000s – Freeview boxes

Other notable items included in the basket in this decade were the Freeview box in 2009 (leaving in 2013), Chicken Kiev in 2006 (still in the basket) and olive oil in 2007 (which is also still in the basket).

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2010 — 2017

2010 and beyond

Garlic bread kicked off this decade by being included in the 2010 basket (replacing pitta bread), followed by tablet computers in 2012, blueberries in 2013 and sweet potato in 2015, as well as music streaming subscription services. This was also the year for electronic cigarette refills and protein powder.

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2010 — 2017

2010 and beyond – Garlic bread

The popularity of garlic bread exemplifies the UK’s love affair with Italian food – a far cry from the 1940s post-war menu.

It is said to have originated in Tuscany, by rubbing slices of garlic on toasted bruschetta bread and drizzling it in olive oil.

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2010 — 2017

2010 and beyond – Tablet computers

There were tablet computers before Apple’s iPad came along in 2010 and the market has become more competitive since, with offerings from companies such as Samsung and HP.

Last year 54% of households in the UK owned one, according to Ofcom.

By 2019, 60% of the UK population are expected to own a tablet..

The tablet remains in the 2017 basket.

2018

New in 2018

In 2018, a selection of items surrounding health and fitness were placed in the basket.

Raspberries:

This super fruit is a new item in the basket and has been added to rebalance the sample of fruits. There have been media reports extolling the health benefits of eating raspberries.

Action camera:

The action camera’s inclusion in the basket reflects a growing sector of the camera market. Adventure holiday enthusiasts can capture their activities on their action camera, as they career off cliffs or climb a sheer ice face.

Women’s exercise leggings:

This new entry to the basket has been chosen to further diversify the range of womenswear, particularly recreational/sports clothing. In today’s ever more fitness and fashion-conscious world, a growing number of women are looking for more from their gym clothes other than its ability to absorb sweat; style has become an important factor too.

Changing Times

1940 — 1950

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Changing Times

Post war

1940s – The vacuum cleaner

1940s and 50s – Mass housebuilding programme

1940s – Corned Beef

1940s – Linoleum

1950s – The washing machine

1950s – NHS prescriptions

1960s – Fish fingers

1960s – The refrigerator

1970s – Smash

1970s – Party Seven beer can

1970s – The cassette recorder

1980s – The duvet

1980s – Cinzano

1980s – Muesli

1980s – Changing tastes

1980s – The microwave

1980s – VHS

1980s – Video rental

1990s – Fromage frais

1990s – CD Players

2000s – The chicken nugget

2000s – MP3 Players

2000s – Satellite navigation (Sat nav)

2000s – Freeview boxes

2010 and beyond

2010 and beyond – Garlic bread

2010 and beyond – Tablet computers

New in 2018

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