23 Oct 2020

CDs are out, vapes are in: the shopping basket used to measure inflation

7:23 pm on 23 October 2020

People are spending more on vaping and exercise equipment but less on CDs, landline phone calls and travel guides.

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Photo: 123RF

Stats NZ has updated the basket of goods and services it uses to measure inflation following a three-yearly review.

With more than one in five adults were thought to have tried an electronic cigarette in 2018/19, vape devices and refills will be added to the consumers price index (CPI) measure.

"The CPI basket reflects New Zealand society and how tastes and spending patterns change over time," said prices index development team manager Fiona Smillie.

"This growing trend in vaping coincides with rising prices for tobacco cigarettes and declining rates of smoking.

"One in eight adults (close to half a million people) are regular cigarette smokers in New Zealand, but that has trended down over the last 40 years from one in three adults."

Other additions to the basket of goods and services are exercise equipment and surgeon's fees.

"This includes everything from exercise bikes and treadmills, to weights," Ms Smillie said.

Stats NZ said cordless phones were no longer being counted because people were making fewer landline calls, using instant messages or video calls instead.

Entertainment units, stereo systems and pre-recorded CDs are among the casualties of the review of the CPI index.

Memory cards and travel guides will also stop being counted in the inflation measure.

Transport's weighting was decreased, especially international airfares "because New Zealand's border is currently closed due to Covid-19 and is likely to re-open in a limited way," said Stats NZ.

Statistics 1920s-style

Stats NZ this week marked World Statistics Day by looking back on what we measured 100 years ago - from whaling to drunkenness.

There were 8501 arrests for drunkenness in 1920, 15 million telegraphs were sent and 44,062 people arrived in the country, compared to 5.33 million this year.

A century ago, wool was New Zealand's top export, with 20 sheep for every person in the country. Contrary to popular belief overseas, nowadays that ratio is five sheep to every New Zealander.

Dairy is now our largest export and New Zealanders are still outnumbered two to one by beef and dairy cattle.

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