The Bureau of Statistics says that the culture, seasonality and spending patterns normally associated with Christmas impacted little on the movement of prices last December.
Upward price movements were noted in just a few categories in the short period between December 15 and 24, and the month was noted more for the stiff competition among vendors who slashed prices and offered special bargains, rather than massive spending by consumers, a release from the bureau stated.
The overall increase in prices for the year from December 2001 to December 2002 has been measured at 6.1 per cent, with a final movement of prices last December of just 0.1% recorded by the Urban (Georgetown) Consumer Price Index (CPI).
The bureau noted that “December is an important month in the determination of the final level of the price index and accordingly the resultant magnitude of the inflation rate.”
The absence of massive spending by consumers last December is manifested by the decline in the index of the heaviest weighted category of food by 0.2 per cent, a major consumption category at Christmas, where the sub-categories of pulse and pulse products recorded a 0.5% decline, and condiments and spices and vegetables and vegetable products declines of 4.1% and 3.8% respectively, in their price levels. These declines counterbalanced and outweighed the recorded increases of 0.7% and 5.0% respectively for the sub-categories meat, fish and eggs, and fruit and fruit products, of which traditionally there is always increased demand in the two-week period just before Christmas.
However, as expected and consistent with the patterns of Christmas spending, the bureau observed, there were also recorded price increases in the sub-groups of furniture by 0.7 per cent, resulting primarily from a 1.8% increase in cleaning materials, transport and communication by 0.2%, due to increases of 0.5% and 0.4% respectively in the costs of personal transportation equipment and purchased transport services, and educational, recreational and cultural services by 3.0 per cent, primarily due to a 10.7% increase in the prices of the books and newspapers sub-group.