Issue 18-111 Consumer Price Index

June 22, 2018

British Columbia’s consumer price index (CPI) rose 2.7% (unadjusted) in May compared to the same month of the previous year. The rate of inflation was up 0.5% from April 2018.

According to Statistics Canada, the overall annual inflation rate increases to 3.1% when food is excluded from the index, but declines to 2.4% when energy is excluded.

The overall cost of food climbed 0.9% since May of last year. The cost of groceries purchased from stores went down (‑0.4%), while the cost of meals purchased from restaurants increased (+3.5%) during the same time period. Within the food category, the highest rise in prices was for fresh vegetables (+1.7%) and fish and other seafood (+1.7%). In May, the largest decrease in price was for coffee and tea (‑9.1%), followed by non-alcoholic beverages (‑3.9%), fresh fruit (‑2.4%), and bakery and other cereal products (‑1.5%).

The cost of shelter went up in May (+3.7%), with prices for both renters (+1.6%) and home owners (+4.8%) rising. Within the shelter category, there were increases in the cost of fuel oil and other fuel (+25.0%), and electricity (+2.8%) in May, while piped gas (‑4.7%) decreased.

The transportation index rose 5.1% since May 2017, with the price of both private transportation (+5.0%) and public transportation (+5.6%) going up. There was an increase in the price of gasoline (+20.9%) since the previous May, and travellers paid more for inter-city public transportation (+7.1%) compared to last year.

The overall cost of clothing and footwear rose (+0.8%) compared to May 2017, with an increase in price of clothing (+0.9%) offsetting a decrease for footwear (‑1.3%).

Compared to a year ago, consumers paid more for alcoholic beverages and tobacco products (+6.6%), recreation, education and reading (+2.3%), health and personal care (+0.8%), and household operations and furnishing (+0.3%). Within these categories, the price of cigarettes observed a notable increase (+13.8%), followed by reading material and other printed matter (+3.7%), and recreation (+2.3%).  Household furnishings (‑0.5%) was the only item with a price decrease.

Consumer prices rose in both Vancouver (+3.0%) and Victoria (+2.1%) in May compared to the same month last year.

Canada’s CPI rose 2.2% (unadjusted) in May. The rate of inflation in B.C. (+2.7%) was tied with Manitoba (+2.7%) for second highest amongst the provinces, trailing only Saskatchewan (+3.0%). The inflation rates for the other provinces ranged from a high of 2.6% in Alberta to a low of 1.7% in Quebec.