Issue 16-13: Consumer Price Index

January 22, 2016

British Columbia’s consumer price index (CPI) climbed 1.9% (unadjusted) in December, compared to the same month of the previous year. This marks an up-tick in the year-over-year rate of inflation since November, when it was 1.7%.

According to Statistics Canada, the overall annual inflation rate of 1.9% increases to 2.1% when energy is excluded from the index, and declines to 1.6% when food is excluded from the index.

The overall cost of food rose by 4.5% since December of last year, with the cost of both groceries purchased from stores (+5.7%) and meals purchased from restaurants (+2.3%) increasing. The rise in grocery prices was mainly due to significant increases in the cost of fresh vegetables (+16.9%), fresh fruit (+13.3%), and meat (+5.7%).

The cost of shelter (+0.4%) increased slightly in December, with costs for both renters (+0.7%) and home owners (+0.5%) going up. Within the shelter category, the cost of electricity increased (+5.9%) since December 2014, while the price of both piped gas (‑13.3%) and fuel oil and other fuel (-18.2%) fell.

The transportation index (+2.4%) increased since December 2014, with the cost of private and public transportation moving in opposite directions: the cost of private transportation (+3.0%) went up, while that for public (-1.3%) transportation went down. Within the transportation category, the cost of gasoline increased by 4.4%, the first year-over-year increase in the gasoline index since June 2014.

The overall cost of clothing and footwear increased (+3.5%) in December, with the cost of both clothing (+2.2%) and footwear (+6.0%) going up.

Compared to a year ago, consumers paid more for recreation, education & reading (+3.0%), alcoholic beverages and tobacco products (+1.8%), household operations and furnishings (+1.0%), and health & personal care (+0.7%).

Consumer prices rose in Vancouver (+2.3%), higher than the rate of inflation for British Columbia as a whole, while in Victoria the increase in prices (+1.7%) was lower than that for B.C.

Canada’s CPI rose 1.6% (unadjusted) in December. Provincial inflation rates ranged from a high of 1.9% in British Columbia to a low of 0.9% in Prince Edward Island.

Data source: Statistics Canada