Issue 19-65 Consumer Price Index

April 17, 2019

British Columbia’s consumer price index (CPI) was 2.6% higher (unadjusted) in March 2019 than in the same month of 2018. On a monthly basis, the rate of inflation rose 0.7% from February 2019.

The overall annual inflation rate increases by 2.3% when food and energy are excluded from the index.

The cost of food climbed 4.3% since March of 2018. Prices for groceries purchased from stores (+5.0%) and meals purchased from restaurants (+3.0%) were both up from the previous year. Within the food category, the highest rise in prices was for fresh vegetables (+15.7%), followed by coffee and tea (+11.1%), fresh fruit (+8.0%), and fish and other seafood (+4.7%).

The cost of shelter continued to climb in March (+3.4%), with prices for both renters (+4.3%) and home owners (+2.7%) rising. Within the shelter category, there were increases in the cost of utilities, including piped gas (+10.5%), electricity (+2.8%), and fuel oil and other fuel (+2.6%).

The overall cost of clothing and footwear was also on the rise (+2.4%) compared to March 2018. The price for clothing (+1.8%) and footwear (+3.3%) increased.

The transportation index rose 2.4% in March, with the price of both private (+1.9%) and public (+2.4%) transportation going up. The price of gasoline (‑0.8%) decreased since March 2018, and public transportation passengers paid more to travel between cities (+2.1%).

Compared to a year ago, consumers paid more for alcoholic beverages and tobacco products (+5.1%), health and personal care (+1.6%), household operations and furnishing (+1.3%), and recreation, education and reading (+0.1%). Within these categories, items with significant price increases include cigarettes (+8.6%), beer purchased from stores (+5.3%), education (+2.2%), and liquour purchased from stores (+1.9%). The only category to see a price decrease over March 2018 was reading material and other printed matter (‑2.6%).

Consumer prices rose in both Vancouver (+2.5%) and Victoria (+2.7%) in March compared to the same month of 2018.

Canada’s CPI was up 1.9% (unadjusted) in March. The rate of inflation in British Columbia (+2.6%), Manitoba (+2.3%), and Alberta (+2.3%) were highest among the provinces.

Please visit the Consumer Price Index page for more information.