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Consumer Prices

4.10 Percentage expenditure weights used for the 1922 Consumer Price Index
 
ItemWeight ItemWeight
Beef5.18 Bread6.37
Mutton2.94 Flour3.70
Fresh Pork0.63 Oatmeal, etc0.97
Sausages, Black Puddings, etc0.82 Rice, Sago, etc0.45
Bacon, Pigs' heads, etc5.23 Potatoes3.16
Fresh fish0.61 Other vegetables1.33
Cured or tinned fish0.16 Tea3.80
Butter6.91 Sugar3.24
Cheese0.26 Jam1.12
Margarine0.18 Other Food0.95
Lard0.25 Meals eaten out0.70
Fresh Milk4.56   
Condensed Milk0.09 Total Food57.05
Eggs3.44   
     
Womens Clothing  Girls (over 6) clothing: 
Coats0.69 Coats0.50
Hats0.37 Hats0.23
Costumes1.09 Dresses0.69
Blouses0.39 Stockings0.20
Skirts0.21 Combinations0.13
Stockings0.24 Stays0.11
Combinations0.15 Petticoats0.15
Corsets0.19 Chemises0.13
Underskirts0.18 Boots and shoes0.71
Chemises0.19 Other Clothing0.19
Boots and shoes0.92   
Other clothing0.27   
    
Mens Clothing:  Boys (over 6) clothing: 
Overcoats0.83 Overcoats0.27
Suits2.60 Suits0.83
Hats0.38 Caps0.07
Singlets0.30 Shirts0.17
Drawers0.30 Stockings0.12
Shirts0.55 Boots and shoes0.56
Socks0.32 Other Clothing0.13
Boots and shoes1.33   
Other Clothing0.34 Clothing children under 60.45
    
  Total clothing17.48
     
Rent5.41
     
Coal3.14Electricity for cooking0.00
Turf1.79Candles0.33
Firewood0.34Paraffin Oil0.67
Gas for lighting0.40Other fuel and light0.05
Gas for cooking0.29
Electricity for lighting0.03Total fuel and light7.04
     
Soap1.12Other Sundries8.41
Pipe Tobacco2.11
Cigarettes1.38Total sundries13.02
  
  
   Total weights100.00
Source: Report of the Cost of Living in Ireland June 1922

Patrick Street, Cork 1900

Photo: Patrick Street, Cork 1900

  • The percentage expenditure weights in the table above were used to calculate the Consumer Price Index (CPI) in 1922. This basket of weights was based on data collected by the Ministry of Economic Affairs during the summer of 1922. The weights add up to 100 and show that, for example, 7.04% of the weight of the CPI was given to fuel and light.
  • This work was carried out by sending 5,000 forms for the collection of Household Budgets to National School teachers in every school in the country who then distributed the forms to wage-earning households. Only 308 completed budgets, from 112 towns, were returned.
  • These Household Budget forms asked the householder to detail the quantities and costs of all food consumed during the previous seven days in addition to expenditure on fuel and light, household requisites and other sundry items such as cigarettes.
  • For the year ending June 1922 the householders were also asked to give (1) the cost of all clothing purchased, (2) the cost of materials purchased for clothing and (3) the cost of making-up clothes.
  • These percentage expenditure weights tell us that just over 57% of average household expenditure was on food and non-alcoholic drink in 1922, compared to 11.4% in 2011 (see Table 4.11).
  • 17.5% of household expenditure in 1922 was on clothing compared to 5.2% in 2011. 87% of average household spending in 1922 was on food, clothing, rent and fuel & light compared with 26.9% in 2011.
  • The Consumer Price Index (CPI) today has weights for items which do not appear in the 1922 index e.g. transport, restaurants and hotels, recreation and culture, health and communications.
  • Only one of these expenditure items is partially covered in the 1922 weights where a weight of 0.7% is given to meals eaten out of the home.
  • One intriguing feature of the 1922 weights is that there is no mention of alcohol and there is no coverage of alcohol in the retail prices collected in 1914 (see Table 4.12).
  • Alcoholic beverages have an expenditure weight of 2.3% in the 2011 Consumer Price Index. Alcohol was also excluded from the 1914 Cost of Living index for Great Britain and Ireland which was designed to measure the cost of living for working class households.
1922 CPI
Food57.05
Clothing17.48
Fuel, light7.04
Other18.43
2011 CPI
Food10.2532
Clothing5.2025
Fuel, light5.3023
Other79.242
4.11 Percentage expenditure weights used for 2011 Consumer Price Index
 
ItemWeight
Bread and cereals1.98
Meat2.42
Fish0.32
Milk, cheese and eggs1.46
Oils and fats0.29
Fruit0.74
Vegetables1.39
Sugar, jam, honey, chocolate and confectionery0.80
Other food products0.85
Total Food10.25
Coffee, tea and cocoa0.23
Mineral waters, soft drinks, fruit and vegetables juices0.88
Total drinks (non-alcoholic)1.11
Spirits0.35
Wine1.05
Beer0.86
Total alcohol2.26
Tobacco2.65
Clothing and footware5.20
Rents paid by tenants5.00
Mortgage Interest5.67
Maintenance and repair of dwellings0.87
Water supply0.63
Electricity2.34
Gas1.18
Liquid fuels1.31
Solid fuels0.48
Furnishings, household equipment and household maintenance3.22
Health4.63
Transport15.09
Communications3.49
Recreation and culture8.08
Education2.46
Restaurants and hotels14.17
Miscellaneous goods and services9.92
  
Total weights100.00
Source: CSO
  • The percentage expenditure weights in the table above were used to calculate the Consumer Price Index (CPI) in 2011. This basket of weights was based on data collected by the CSO in the Household Budget Survey 2009-2010. The weights add up to 100 and show that, for example, 14.17% of the weight of the CPI index was given to restaurants and hotels.
  • The basket of weights used for the 2011 CPI is very different to that used for the 1922 CPI. The main difference is that 11.4% of the weights in the 2011 basket are used for food and non-alcoholic drink compared to over 57% in 1922.
  • There is also much more variety in the items covered in the 2011 basket compared to one used in 1922. For example, items which appear in the 2011 basket and which did not appear in 1922 include alcohol, mortgage interest, health, recreation and culture, education and restaurants and hotels.
4.12 Retail prices of food in Irish towns, 19141 and updated to 20142 using the Consumer Price Index
 
FoodQuantityAverage price, 1914Updated to 2014 using CPI
Beefper lb.8.0d€3.67
Muttonper lb.8.6d€4.90
Pork chopsper lb.8.9d€4.90
Pork sausagesper lb.8.7d€4.90
Baconper lb.9.2d€4.90
Butter, Irish creameryper lb.13.9d€7.35
Butter, Irish Farmersper lb.12.6d€6.12
Cheeseper lb.9.8d€4.90
Margarine, 1st gradeper lb.7.6d€3.67
Margarine, 2nd gradeper lb.6.2d€3.67
Lardper lb.7.1d€3.67
Milk, freshper quart2.5d€1.22
Condensed Milk, Irishper lb. tin6.8d€3.67
Condensed Milk, Importedper lb. tin7.2d€3.67
Eggs, 1st gradeper dozen9.6d€4.90
Breadper 2lb loaf3.2d€1.22
Flour, householdper 14 lb.19.8d€9.79
Oatmealper 14 lb.21.1d€11.02
Riceper lb. tin2.8d€1.22
Potatoes, oldper 14 lb.5.5d€2.45
Tea, Bestper lb.30.3d€15.92
Tea, Cheapestper lb.18.1d€9.79
Sugar, white granulatedper lb.2.2d€1.22
Jamper lb.6.6d€3.67
Source: Report on the Cost of Living in Ireland, June 1922
Note: prices in 1914 are expressed in pence where 8.6d represents 8.6 pence, (in 1914 there were 12 pence in one shilling and 20 shillings in one pound).
1 Data in this table refers to the island of Ireland.
2 Some prices which are very close in value in 1914 may have the same updated price in 2014.

Tempest's shop interior, Co. Louth 1905

Photo: Tempest's shop interior, Co. Louth 1905

  • These retail prices for food were collected in Irish towns in 1914 for use in compiling the Consumer Price Index (CPI).
  • Although Ireland was an agricultural country producing plentiful supplies of fresh milk, condensed milk (both Irish and imported) features as an item in the CPI. One explanation for this is that fresh milk was hard to transport and store as there was very little access to refrigeration 100 years ago.
  • Neither chicken nor fish are included in this list of food items used for the CPI in 1914 which implies that these food items were not regularly purchased, although presumably they were consumed by people who could keep their own chickens and do their own fishing.
  • Two different kinds of tea were priced in 1914 - best tea and cheapest tea. The price of best tea, updated to 2014 prices using the Consumer Price Index (CPI), is €15.92 per pound which was very expensive for most households. Cheapest tea, at €9.79 per pound in 2014 prices, was also expensive and presumably was a luxury in most houses. The average price for the cheapest tea in a supermarket today would be about €2.30 per pound, (which is the equivalent of about 450 grams).
  • Butter was also expensive, at €7.35 a pound in 2014 prices for Irish creamery butter, as also were eggs, at €4.90 for a dozen in 2014 prices.  Both of these basic items must have been difficult to afford in most households in 1914.
4.13 Retail prices of clothes in Irish towns1, 1914 and updated to 20142 using Consumer Price Index
   
Clothing Average price, 1914Updated to 2014 using CPI
Women's clothing  
Heavy coat30s 10d€188.57
Blouse5s 3d€32.63
Skirt8s 1d€48.97
Boots11s 2d€68.57
Girl's (over 6) clothing  
Coat14s 1d€85.72
Dress13s 11d€85.72
Boots8s 4d€51.42
Men's clothing  
Overcoat (readymade)34s 3d€209.39
Overcoat (tailormade)53s 6d€328.16
Suit (readymade)31s 5d€192.25
Suit (tailormade)58s 10d€360.00
Boy's (over 6) clothing  
Overcoat16s 8d€102.09
Shirt2s 1d€12.24
Boots8s 9d€53.87
Source: Report on the Cost of Living in Ireland, June 1922
Note: prices in 1914 are expressed in shillings and pence, so 8s 2d represents 8 shillings and 2 pence, (in 1914 there was 12 pence in one shilling and 20 shillings in one pound).
1 Data in this table refers to the island of Ireland.
2 Some prices which are very close in value in 1914 may have the same updated price in 2014.
  • If we look at the average prices of clothes in 1914 updated to 2014 prices using the Consumer Price Index (CPI), the prices of the clothes do not seem unreasonable to us today in 2016.
  • However, as the average wage was much lower in 1914, the clothes prices from 1914 were in fact very expensive.
  • For example, the average income for a male national school teacher in 1916 was £83 11 shillings (see Table 2.15) which is about 32 shillings a week, close to the cost of a woman's heavy coat.
4.14 Retail prices of other commodities in Irish Towns1, 1914 and updated to 2014 using Consumer Price Index
 
CommoditiesQuantityAverage price, 1914Updated to 2014 using CPI
Coalper 112 lb17.4d€8.57
Turfper 112 lb13.7d€7.35
Gas for lightingper 1,000 c.ft50.6d€25.71
Gas for cookingper 1,000 c.ft49.1d€24.49
Electricity for lightingper unit5.3d€2.45
Electricity for cookingper unit3.0d€1.22
Candles per lbper lb.3.5d€1.22
Paraffin Oilper gallon8.3d€3.67
Soap (household)per lb.3.6d€2.45
Pipe tobaccoper 2 ozs.7.0d€3.67
Cigarettesper packet of 103.0d€1.22
Source: Report on the Cost of Living in Ireland, June 1922
Note: prices in 1914 are expressed in pence, so 17.4d represents 17.4 pence, (in 1914 there was 12 pence in one shilling and 20 shillings in one pound).
1 Data in this table refers to the island of Ireland.
2 Some prices which are very close in value in 1914 may have the same updated price in 2014.

Henry O'Connell and Sons Provision Store, 1900-1910

Photo: Henry O'Connell and Sons Provision Store, 1900-1910

  • Prices were collected in 1914 for candles and for paraffin oil (used in paraffin lamps to provide lighting in homes) which illustrates that in 1914 electricity was rarely used in homes.
  • The average price of a packet of 10 cigarettes in 1914, at 3 pence or €1.22 in 2014 prices, shows that cigarettes are less expensive than today, when a packet of 20 cigarettes costs over €10.

 

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