Gin, non-dairy milk and cycle helmets make inflation basket

An increase in the number of gin drinkers and vegans has led to the tipple and items such as oat milk being added to Britain's inflation basket.

Gin returns to the shopping basket for the latest inflation statistics after an absence of 13 years. Picture: Getty Images/iStockphoto

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) said that the increase in popularity of dairy-free diets has led to non-dairy milk – such as soya, rice and oat milk – making an appearance on the list it uses to track prices for the first time.

The statistics body cited the rise of campaigns such as “Veganuary”, where some people go vegan for a month.

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Gin returns to the basket after a 13-year absence following a rise in consumption and after a growth in the number of small gin producers.

The ONS also said that the list will now include bicycle helmets after a 12-year absence, due to the increase in the popularity of cycling linked to sporting successes by British cyclists in the Olympics and the Tour De France.

Children’s scooters are also being added, replacing children’s swings, as well as council tax.

The list is used to calculate CPIH, the headline measure of inflation. On the way out are basic mobile phone handsets as their decline in popularity in the face of smartphones has been “making it difficult to collect consistent prices for them”.

Senior ONS statistician Phil Gooding said: “The annual basket review enables us to keep up to date with all the latest trends, ensuring our inflation measures reflect the changing costs experienced by consumers.

“The addition of council tax to CPIH will ensure it remains our most comprehensive measure of consumer inflation.”

Sebastian Burnside, senior economist with RBS, said: “The gin boom is in full swing with sales reaching £1bn last year across pubs, bars and shops. This double-digit growth has caught the eye of the statisticians and a bottle of gin has now earned its place in the inflation basket.

“Spirits aren’t the only beneficiaries, flavoured cider gets a slot, as does flavoured water. The basket is brought up to date with the inclusion of ‘non-dairy milk drinks’ for which read soya or almond milk.”

He added: “Individual changes to the list may seem small, but they add up to a substantial marker of the way we live over time. Sat Navs joined the list in 2007, but were kicked out in 2015 as phones have expanded their usefulness. DVDs have had a similarly short life. Will gin’s rise continue? Back in 1970 it shared its slot in the basket with three different kegs of beer, that would be the dream of the craft beer crowd.”