Vinyl records return to basket of goods for first time in more than two decades

Sanitiser out, air fryers in: How the 'inflation basket' reflects our changing nation

Vinyl records and air fryers have been added to the basket of goods used to calculate inflation, while a pub-bought pint of Guinness and hand sanitiser have been removed.

The Office for National Statistics (ONS)’s virtual basket contains more than 700 items that are representative of the goods and services that people typically spend money on.

The 'basket' measures the changing cost of products and services over time as well as the changing tastes and habits of UK consumers.

The ONS measures inflation - the rate at which goods are getting more of less expensive - on a monthly basis.

A surge in vinyl sales has caused for them to be re-introduced into the basket for the first time in 32 years.

Over time that list changes and the ONS tweaks the basket. For instance, in 1992, as CDs and cassettes increased in popularity, the ONS removed vinyl records from the basket.

Those tables have now turned.

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More than three decades later, vinyl has become popular again and is added to the list for this year, while tapes is nowhere to be seen.

Another addition to the list is a result of the energy crisis.

As energy bills soared, people turned to the air fryer, with manufacturers saying they are a lower-energy way of cooking.

There is a happier sign of the times in the removals from the list, as hand sanitisers were removed.

Hand sanitisers were added to the basket in 2021, to reflect how the Covid-19 pandemic was changing peoples’ shopping habits.

This year they have been removed.

Some removals from the list are less about what people are buying, and more that the ONS does not think it needs to track the price of that item specifically.

That is the case for Guinness.

This year, draught stout has been removed from the list, because the price of draught stout and draught bitter often move together, so the ONS does not think it needs to track both of them.

Other additions to the list this year include gluten-free bread, rice cakes, sunflower and pumpkin seeds, and women’s socks.

Popcorn, loose cooked ham, hot rotisserie cooked whole chicken, sofa beds were all removed, as pull-out beds become more popular, and bakeware.

ONS deputy director for prices, Matt Corder said the inflation basket of goods offers "a fascinating snapshot of consumer spending through the years“.

Often the basket reflects the adoption of new technology, but the return of vinyl records shows how cultural revivals can affect our spending.

“We are also seeing the impact of the pandemic fading from the basket with the removal of hand sanitiser due to decreased demand," Mr Corder said.

“Healthier lifestyle products continue to influence consumer choice reflected by the addition of the air fryer, spray oils and rice cakes as well as sunflower and pumpkin seeds.”

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