Issue 19-179 Consumer Price Index

November 20, 2019

British Columbia’s consumer price index (CPI) was 2.2% higher (unadjusted) in October 2019 than in the same month of 2018. On a monthly basis, the CPI dropped 0.2% from September 2019.

The overall annual inflation rate dropped to 1.7% when food and energy are excluded from the index.

The cost of food climbed 4.6% since October of 2018. Prices for groceries purchased from stores (+5.1%) and meals purchased from restaurants (+3.5%) were both up from the previous year. Within the food category, the highest rise in prices was for fresh vegetables (+13.0%), followed by meat (+8.0%), non-alcoholic beverages (+7.6%), coffee and tea (+5.6%), and fresh fruit (+5.2%).

The cost of shelter continued to climb in October (+1.8%), with prices for both renters (+3.5%) and home owners (+0.8%) rising. Within the shelter category, there were increases in the cost of utilities, including piped gas (+10.4%) and electricity (+1.8%), while fuel oil and other fuel (‑4.9%) saw a price decrease in October.

The overall cost of clothing and footwear was also on the rise (+2.4%) compared to October 2018, with an increase in the price for clothing (+3.2%) offsetting a decrease for footwear (‑1.6%).

The transportation index rose 2.1% in October, with the price of both private (+1.6%) and public (+2.9%) transportation going up. While the price of gasoline (‑1.3%) dropped since October of last year, public transportation passengers paid more to travel within (+1.9%) and between (+3.0%) cities.

Compared to a year ago, consumers paid more for recreation, education and reading (+3.5%), health and personal care (+1.5%), and alcoholic beverages and tobacco products (+1.0%), while paying less for household operations and furnishing (‑0.4%). Within these categories, items with significant price increases include beer purchased from stores (+7.6%), recreation (+5.0%), cigarettes (+2.3%), and health care (+1.6%). The only categories to see a price decrease over October 2018 was reading material and other printed matter (‑2.1%) and household operations (‑0.7%).

Consumer prices rose in both Vancouver (+2.3%) and Victoria (+2.0%) in October compared to the same month of 2018.

Canada’s CPI was up 1.9% (unadjusted) in October. The rate of inflation in Quebec (+2.3%), British Columbia (+2.2%), Manitoba (+2.2%), and Ontario (+1.7%) were highest among the provinces.