Champagne removed from inflation rate basket

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CHAMPAGNE sold in restaurants and bars has been removed from the basket of goods and services used to calculate inflation rates.

In the latest sign that consumers are cutting back on the finer things in life since the financial crisis, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) has removed bottles of champagne in the on-sales market from the basket to reflect falling sales, instead adding off-licence sales of white rum and hot chocolate.

E-books on digital readers such as Kindles are in, while digital television recorders have replaced Freeview set-top boxes.

The ONS updates the basket each year to ensure it reflects up-to-date spending trends.

The consumer prices index (CPI) and retail prices index (RPI) rates of inflation are calculated using 180,000 price quotations every month, covering around 700 goods and services from 150 areas across the UK. The ONS said e-books now “represent a significant and growing market, with recent increases in the number of people reading books digitally”.

Its decision to include digital television recorders/receivers, such as personal video recorders, follows the recent digital switchover.

Changes in the use of technology has had a major bearing on the inflation basket in recent years, with the ONS including tablet computers such as Apple’s iPad last year.

The latest snapshot of the nation’s spending habits also showed continental sliced deli-type meats have been added to the basket, along with blueberries and packaged vegetables for a stir-fry.

White rum from off-licences and supermarkets has been added for the first time to “cover spirits that are drunk by younger people better”, added the ONS. Packs of daily disposable contact lenses are also being included, replacing a pair of soft contact lenses.