Issue 20-111: Consumer Price Index

June 17, 2020

British Columbia’s consumer price index (CPI) in May 2020 was 0.2% lower (unadjusted) than in May 2019. On a monthly basis, the CPI rose 0.2% from April 2020.

The overall annual inflation rate increased 0.5% when food and energy were excluded from the index.

The cost of food climbed 3.9% since May of 2019. Prices for groceries purchased from stores (+4.4%) and meals purchased from restaurants (+3.1%) were both up from the previous year. Within the food category, the highest rise in prices was for fresh vegetables (+8.7%), followed by meat (+7.7%), non-alcoholic beverages (+6.7%), and dairy products and eggs (+4.4%). The price of coffee and tea (‑4.2%) and fish and other seafood (‑0.1%) decreased from the previous year.

The cost of shelter continued to climb in May (+0.7%), as prices for renters (+2.2%) and home owners (+0.5%) increased. Within the shelter category, the cost of fuel oil and other fuel (‑30.5%), piped gas (‑1.8%), and electricity (‑0.4%) all  decreased.

The overall cost of clothing and footwear was down (‑4.5%) compared to May 2019, with decreases in the price of clothing (‑4.7%) and footwear (‑5.3%).

The transportation index decreased 3.7% in May, as the low price of gasoline (‑31.0%) resulted in the cost of private transportation (‑4.9%) decreasing. Conversely, public transportation (+4.9%) saw an increase over May of last year, and public transportation passengers paid more to travel within (+2.1%) and between (+5.8%) cities.

Compared to a year ago, consumers paid more for health and personal care (+2.7%) and alcoholic beverages and tobacco products (+2.2%), but less for recreation, education and reading (‑2.4%) and household operations and furnishing (‑0.7%). Within these categories, items with significant price increases include cigarettes (+9.1%), personal care (+4.1%), and health care (+1.9%). In May, there were price decreases for reading material and other printed matter (‑6.2%), recreation (‑3.8%), household furnishings (‑2.1%), and household operations (‑0.2%).

Consumer prices dropped slightly in Vancouver (‑0.2%) and Victoria (‑0.2%) in May compared to the same month of 2019.

Canada’s CPI was down 0.4% (unadjusted) in May, with Alberta (+0.1%) being the only province to see an increase in the rate of inflation.

The COVID-19 outbreak continued to have a visible impact on consumer prices in May. Increased demand for food and health and personal care were reflected in rising prices, while travel limitations and temporary business closures continued to result in lower prices for gasoline, recreation, and clothing and footwear.

Go to the Consumer Price Index page for more information