Issue 18-164 Consumer Price Index

September 4, 2018

British Columbia’s consumer price index (CPI) was 2.9% higher (unadjusted) in August than in the same month of last year. On a monthly basis, the rate of inflation was down 0.1% from July 2018.

The overall annual inflation rate increases to 3.1% when food is excluded from the index, but declines to 2.8% when energy is also excluded.

The cost of food climbed 1.9% since August of 2017. Prices for groceries purchased from stores (+1.9%) for meals purchased from restaurants (+3.9%) were both up from the previous year. Within the food category, the highest rise in prices was for fresh vegetables (+5.0%), fresh fruit (+3.9%), and fish and other seafood (+2.0%). Food products that saw price decreases were bakery and other cereal products (‑1.9%) and coffee and tea (‑1.6%).

The cost of shelter continued to climb in August (+2.8%), with prices for both renters (+1.9%) and home owners (+3.2%) rising. Within the shelter category, there were increases in the cost of some utilities, including fuel oil and other fuel (+24.4%), and electricity (+2.8%). Conversely, the cost of piped gas was lower (-4.7%).

The overall cost of clothing and footwear was also on the rise (+0.9%) compared to August 2017, with an increase in price of clothing (+1.9%) offsetting a decrease for footwear (‑3.8%).

The transportation index rose 6.3% in August, with the price of both private (+4.2%) and public (+17.8%) transportation going up. The price of gasoline (+13.9%) rose since last August, and public transportation passengers paid substantially more to travel between cities (+23.2%).

Compared to a year ago, consumers paid more for alcoholic beverages and tobacco products (+6.5%), recreation, education and reading (+2.5%), health and personal care (+1.1%), and household operations and furnishing (+0.7%). Within these categories, items with significant price increases include cigarettes (+14.2%), recreation (+2.7%), and education (+2.0%).

Consumer prices rose in both Vancouver (+2.8%) and Victoria (+2.5%) in August compared to the same month last year.

Canada’s CPI was up 2.8% (unadjusted) in August. The rate of inflation in Alberta (+3.1%), Ontario (+3.1%), and Prince Edward Island (+3.0%) were highest among the provinces. Inflation rates for the other provinces ranged from 2.9% in both Manitoba and B.C. to a low of 2.2% in Quebec and Saskatchewan.

Note: Statistics Canada will release the September Consumer Price Index on October 19, 2018.