Issue 16-49: Consumer Price Index

March 18, 2016

British Columbia’s consumer price index (CPI) climbed 1.6% (unadjusted) in February, compared to the same month of the previous year. This marks a decline in the year-over-year rate of inflation since January, when it was 2.3%.

According to Statistics Canada, the overall annual inflation rate of 1.6% declines to 1.3% when food is excluded from the index, and increases to 2.1% when energy is excluded.

The overall cost of food rose by 3.6% since February of last year, with the cost of both groceries purchased from stores (+4.2%) and meals purchased from restaurants (+2.3%) increasing. The rise in grocery prices was mainly due to increases in the cost of fresh vegetables (+10.3%), fish and other seafood (+6.3%), and fresh fruit (+4.6%).

The cost of shelter (+0.4%) increased slightly in February, with costs for both renters (+0.8%) and home owners (+0.6%) going up. Within the shelter category, the cost of electricity increased (+5.9%) since February 2015, while the price of both piped gas (‑17.8%) and fuel oil and other fuel (-19.3%) fell.

The transportation index (+1.1%) increased since February 2015, with the cost of both private transportation (+1.1%) and public transportation (+1.0%) going up. Within the transportation category, the cost of gasoline fell (-9.4%) in February, after two consecutive months in which gasoline prices rose.

The overall cost of clothing and footwear increased (+1.8%) in January, with the cost of both clothing (+0.8%) and footwear (+6.4%) going up. Within the clothing category, the cost of women’s clothing (-2.7%) went down, while the cost of children’s clothing (+11.5%) increased significantly.

Compared to a year ago, consumers paid more for recreation, education & reading (+2.6%), alcoholic beverages and tobacco products (+2.5%), household operations and furnishings (+1.7%), and health & personal care (+1.2%).

Consumer prices rose in Vancouver (+1.8%), above the rate of inflation for British Columbia as a whole, while in Victoria the increase in prices (+1.4%) in February was lower than that for B.C.

Canada’s CPI rose 1.4% (unadjusted) in February. Provincial inflation rates ranged from a high of 1.8% in New Brunswick, to a low of 1.0% in Quebec.

Source: Statistics Canada