Issue 18-40 Consumer Price Index (CPI)

February 23, 2018

British Columbia’s consumer price index (CPI) rose 2.1% (unadjusted) in January compared to the same month of the previous year. The year-over-year rate of inflation was up 0.7% from December.

According to Statistics Canada, the overall annual inflation rate remains at 2.1% when food is excluded from the index, but declines to 2.0% when energy is excluded.

The overall cost of food climbed 2.3% since January of last year. The cost of groceries purchased from stores went up (+1.9%), with the cost of meals purchased from restaurants also increasing (+3.1%) during the same time period. Within the food category, the highest rise in prices was for fresh vegetables (+8.8%), followed by fish and other seafood (+3.2%) and fresh fruit (+3.1). Prices fell in January for non-alcoholic beverages (‑0.8%) and bakery and other cereal products (‑0.4%).

The cost of shelter went up in January (+3.2%), with prices for both renters (+1.4%) and home owners (+4.3%) rising. Within the shelter category, there were increases in the cost of fuel oil and other fuel (+11.5%), and electricity (+3.2%) in January, while piped gas (‑7.1%) decreased.

The transportation index rose 3.1% since January 2017, with the price of both private transportation (+2.2%) and public transportation (+8.5%) going up. There was an increase in the price of gasoline (+6.8%) since the previous January, and travellers paid more for inter-city public transportation (+11.1%) compared to last year.

The overall cost of clothing and footwear fell (‑0.7%) in January as the price of footwear (‑1.2%) and clothing (‑0.8%) both saw decreases.

Compared to a year ago, consumers paid more for alcoholic beverages and tobacco products (+3.1%), health and personal care (+1.4%), household operations and furnishing (+0.6), and recreation, education and reading (+0.3%). Within these categories, some items with significant price increases included reading material and other printed matter (+5.4%), beer purchased from stores (+3.8%), and cigarettes (+3.4%).

Consumer prices rose in both Vancouver (+2.7%) and Victoria (+1.5%) in January.

Canada’s CPI rose 1.7% (unadjusted) in January. The rate of inflation in B.C. (+2.1%) was tied for second highest amongst the provinces, trailing Saskatchewan (+2.5%). The inflation rates for the other provinces ranged from a high of 2.1% in Manitoba to a low of 1.1% in Newfoundland and Labrador.

Note:  Statistics Canada will release the February Consumer Price Index on March 23, 2018.