Monday 15 March 2021 1:31 pm

Covid-19: Forget the fashion pages, the ONS inflation basket tells us pandemic shopping trends

You’ve probably read countless stories on shopping trends during the Covid-19 pandemic: banana bread, gym equipment, deliveries, pyjamas. However the ONS’ basket of good used to determine inflation tells us what’s really going on.

The statisticians there track consumer price inflation (CPI), how expensive things are to buy, basket on a famed basket of goods.

The basket, although hypothetical, is based on real shopping data from across the UK, so additions and deletions to the “shopping basket list” tell us what’s hot, and what’s not.

So,what lockdown trends stuck? Dumbells, hand santizers, loungewear bottoms and fitness-tracking smart watches were added, and ground coffee was replaced by coffee sachets, all reflecting an army ofcasually dressed remote workers who swapped their after work gym session with a lounge workout with free weights.

Sam Beckett, the ONS’s head of economic statistics, said: “The pandemic has impacted on our behaviour as consumers, and this has been reflected in the 2021 inflation basket of goods. The need for hygiene on the go has seen the addition of hand sanitiser, now a staple item for many of us.”

When it comes tot he mid-afternoon sugar rush, more Brits were buying Maltesers than white chocolate bars, so the malted treat was added and the choc-block removed.

And what else fell off the shopping list after 2020?

Sandwiches purchased from the office canteen are no longer counted. Neither are gold chains and Axminster and Wilton carpets common in commercial properties.

The bulk of the more than 700 items in the basket stayed put, with only 17 additions and 10 items removed.