Issue 16-200: Consumer Price Index (CPI)

October 21, 2016

British Columbia’s consumer price index (CPI) climbed 1.8% (unadjusted) in September, compared to the same month of the previous year. This marks a small decrease in the year-over-year rate of inflation since August, when it was 2.0%.

According to Statistics Canada, the overall annual inflation rate of 1.8% remains unchanged when energy is excluded from the index, and increases to 2.1% when food is excluded instead.

The overall cost of food remained virtually the same (-0.1%) since September of last year. The cost of groceries purchased from stores decreased (-1.6%), while the cost of meals purchased from restaurants increased (+2.9%) during the same time period. Within the food category, the largest drop in prices were observed for fresh fruits (-4.4%), coffee and tea (-4.1%), and vegetables and vegetable preparations (-3.2%), while fish and other seafood (+8.0%) was the only group to experience an increase in prices compared to September of last year.

The cost of shelter (+1.7%) went up in September, with costs rising for both renters (+1.0%) and home owners (+2.4%). Within the shelter category, the cost of electricity increased (+3.9%) since September 2015, while the price of both piped gas (‑13.3%) and fuel oil and other fuel (-2.3%) fell.

The transportation index (+4.2%) increased since September of last year, with the cost of both private transportation (+4.4%) and public transportation (+3.3%) going up. Within the transportation category, the cost of inter-city public transportation went up (+4.1%) in September, while the cost of gasoline increased (+3.6%), marking the first time over the past eight months in which gasoline prices increased on a year-over-year basis.

The overall cost of clothing and footwear decreased (-1.0%) in September, with the cost of both clothing (-1.2%) and footwear (-2.6%) going down.

Compared to a year ago, consumers paid more for recreation, education and reading (+2.8%), alcoholic beverages and tobacco products (+1.7%), household operations and furnishings (+1.4%), and health and personal care (+1.3%).

Consumer prices rose in Vancouver (+2.2%) in September, above the rate of inflation for British Columbia as a whole, while in Victoria the increase in prices (+1.7%) was slightly lower than B.C. as a whole.

Canada’s CPI rose 1.3% (unadjusted) in September. Provincial inflation rates ranged from a high of 3.8% in Newfoundland and Labrador, to a low of 0.5% in Alberta. The rate of inflation in B.C. ranks joint-third highest amongst the provinces (tied with Ontario).