Issue 16-82: Consumer Price Index (CPI)

April 22, 2016

British Columbia’s consumer price index (CPI) climbed 1.7% (unadjusted) in March, compared to the same month of the previous year. This marks a slight uptick in the year-over-year rate of inflation since February, when it was 1.6%.

According to Statistics Canada, the overall annual inflation rate of 1.7% declines to 1.4% when food is excluded from the index, and increases to 2.3% when energy is excluded.

The overall cost of food rose by 3.4% since March of last year, with the cost of both groceries purchased from stores (+3.9%) and meals purchased from restaurants (+2.4%) increasing. The rise in grocery prices was mainly due to increases in the cost of fresh vegetables (+6.9%), fresh fruit (+6.6%), and meat (+4.6%), while the cost of dairy products and eggs (‑0.3%) went down.

The cost of shelter (+0.6%) increased slightly in March, with the index for both renters (+1.0%) and home owners (+1.1%) going up. Within the shelter category, the cost of electricity increased (+5.9%) since March 2015, while the price of both piped gas (‑17.8%) and fuel oil and other fuel (-17.1%) fell.

The transportation index (+0.6%) increased since March of last year, with the cost of both private transportation (+0.2%) and public transportation (+2.4%) going up. Within the transportation category, the cost of gasoline fell (-10.3%) in March, marking the second consecutive month in which gasoline prices dropped.

The overall cost of clothing and footwear increased (+0.4%) in March, with the prices of clothing (-0.8%) and footwear (+3.5%) moving in opposite directions.

Compared to a year ago, consumers paid more for recreation, education & reading (+3.3%), alcoholic beverages and tobacco products (+3.1%), household operations and furnishings (+2.3%), and health & personal care (+1.7%). Some items with notable price increases within these categories are alcoholic beverages purchased from stores (+5.3%), reading material and other printed matter (+4.3%), and recreation (+4.0%).

Consumer prices rose in Vancouver (+2.1%), above the rate of inflation for British Columbia as a whole, while in Victoria the increase in prices (+1.5%) in March was lower than that for B.C.

Canada’s CPI rose 1.3% (unadjusted) in March. Provincial inflation rates ranged from a high of 1.7% in British Columbia, to a low of 0.3% in Prince Edward Island.

Source: Statistics Canada