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Information Note on Implications of COVID-19 on the Consumer Price Index - November 2021

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November 2021

It was estimated that households, on average, were unable to consume 0.9% of the goods and services in the CPI basket of goods and services in November. These consist of the following items included in the CPI:

  • Package holidays
  • Rail catering
  • Canteens

In addition to this, due to the closure of some outlets, household consumption for many other goods and services was significantly reduced.

Impact on CPI data collection

The CSO sustained the following contingency measures to collect CPI price data for November which were initially implemented in April 2020:

  1. Price information was collected from websites and the CSO engaged with large retailers that provided price data to replace the price information which was previously collected in-store by the price collectors. The CSO maximised the price collection from these alternative sources to the greatest extent possible and ensured that the information used for the CPI was comparable between October and November.
  2. The CSO engaged with companies and sole traders that normally provide price information in specific sectoral surveys i.e. mainly in services. The CSO appreciates the continued support and assistance of these businesses throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.
  3. Price change was imputed for items in the basket where consumption had not recommenced in November or it was not possible to collect reliable price information.

CPI and HICP are fixed weight indices

Price changes for the goods and services in the CPI and HICP are aggregated using weights that reflect household consumption patterns in the previous year. For example, food currently has a weight of almost 12.5% in the CPI basket of goods and services, which means that 12.5% of household consumption expenditure was spent on food. The weights for both the CPI and HICP are updated at the beginning of each year and are held fixed throughout the year. This approach is necessary to ensure that the indices only reflect price changes and not changes in the quantities of products consumed.

Harmonised approach across EU

Given that the aggregation weights must remain fixed, it is necessary to impute the price change for product groups where (i) household consumption has ceased and transactions did not take place in November or (ii) it is not possible to collect prices. To ensure a harmonised approach to imputation across the EU, Eurostat published a guidance note on the compilation of the HICP in the context of the COVID-19 crisis. The Eurostat guidance was prepared in consultation with National Statistical Institutes (NSIs) including the CSO, and the CSO has implemented this guidance for the CPI and HICP.

Imputation for November 2021

In total, 0.9% of the CPI basket required imputation for November because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Table 1 provides a summary of data collection and imputation for November 2021 by ECOICOP division[1].

The seasonal nature for package holidays was taken into consideration when imputing a price change. The “nearest aggregate estimation” was used for some items, where the price development of a similar available product or service was used to estimate price change. 

 

Table 1: Summary of CPI data collection and imputation for November 2021 by ECOICOP Division

ECOICOP Division  
Weight in CPI (%)
 
Of which: How prices were obtained in November 2021
 
Imputed - no consumption
(%)
 
Imputed – no availability of price data (%)
01. Food and non-alcoholic beverages 14.0 0.0 0.0  
  • Prices data sourced from large retailers.
  • No in-store pricing.
  • Prices not collected from smaller grocery stores. 
02. Alcoholic beverages and tobacco 6.1 0.0 0.0  
  • Prices data sourced from large retailers.
  • No in-store pricing.
  • Prices not collected from smaller grocery stores. 
03. Clothing and footwear 4.2 0.0 0.0  
  • Prices sourced from websites. 
04. Housing, water, electricity, gas 16.2 0.0 0.0
  • Prices sourced from regular sectoral surveys. 
05. Furnishings, household equipment 5.8 0.0 0.0  
  • Prices sourced from websites. 
06. Health 3.3 0.0 0.0
  • Prices sourced from regular sectoral surveys. 
07. Transport 12.8 0.0 0.0   
  • Prices sourced from regular sectoral surveys. 
08. Communications 3.6 0.0 0.0
  • Prices sourced from regular sectoral surveys. 
09. Recreation and culture 6.6 0.5 0.0
  • No consumption package holidays: Item with seasonal price pattern. November 2020 monthly price change used to impute price change for November 2021.
10. Education 1.7 0.0 0.0  
  • Prices sourced from regular sectoral surveys. 
11. Restaurants and hotels 13.0 0.4 0.0
  • Prices sourced from websites.
  • Prices collected by contacting outlets directly by telephone.
  • No consumption for rail catering and canteens. Nearest aggregate estimation used to impute. 
12. Miscellaneous goods and services 12.6 0.0 0.0  
  • Prices sourced from websites.
  • Prices data sourced from large retailers.
  • Prices collected by contacting outlets directly by telephone.
Total 100.0 0.9 0.0  
 


[1] ECOICOP is the Classification of Individual Consumption by Purpose Adapted to the Needs of Harmonised Indices of Consumer Prices (2000).

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