Hand sanitiser added to ONS basket of goods

Increased demand for hand sanitiser gel and loungewear during the pandemic means that these items are now being used to calculate the cost of living in the UK.

It comes after the spread of Covid-19 led to greater awareness of the need for hygiene while out and about and people dressed more casually when working at home.

The annual review by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) also added exercise equipment for keeping fit at home.

The ONS uses a wide range of everyday items to measure the movement of prices and calculate inflation. Every year some products are removed and others are added, helping to ensure that the ‘basket of goods’ reflects what people are actually buying.

“The pandemic has impacted on our behaviour as consumers, and this has been reflected in the 2021 inflation basket of goods,” said Sam Beckett, head of economic statistics at the ONS.

Other additions this year include smartwatches and WiFi-enabled light bulbs. Hybrid and electric cars have also been added, reflecting their growing popularity and anticipating the longer-term phasing out of petrol and diesel cars.

Meanwhile, white chocolate bars were replaced by malted chocolate sweets, and ground coffee was replaced by coffee sachets.

In total, 17 items have been added to the Consumer Prices Index (CPI) this year, with 10 removed and 729 unchanged.