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Sign of the times: Tablets, e-books added to government CPI basket

Tablet computers, external computer hard drives and e-books have been added to the CPI basket for the first time.

Tablet computers, external computer hard drives and e-books have been added to the CPI basket for the first time.

Tablets are now part of the CPIStatistics New Zealand reviews its basket of representative goods and services once every three years to ensure it continues to accurately reflect household purchases.

CPI price collection has also been expanded to include more downloadable products, including movie downloads and electronic video game downloads – digital movie downloads now sit alongside pre-recorded DVD and Blu-ray discs in the basket.

Goods that were removed include unflued gas heaters, dictionaries, envelopes and recordable CDs, which have all declined in popularity.

The reviews aim to introduce goods and services that have become available since the previous review (provided they have achieved a sufficient share of household spending) or have grown in importance, and to remove goods and services that have declined in importance to the extent that they no longer have a significant share of household spending.

The updated CPI basket will be implemented when SNZ publishes the reweighted CPI for the September quarter on October 25.

The main source of information used for the review was the Household Economic Survey, which surveyed about 3,100 households to collect detailed information on households’ spending habits. The survey ran from July 2009 to June 2010.

Government statistician Geoff Bascand said based on the household survey and other information, it is estimates that of every $100 spent by households on goods and services covered by the CPI, $23.55 is spent on housing and household utilities, compared with $22.75 in 2008. This reflects increased spending on rent and higher electricity prices.

Food accounts for $18.79 of every $100 spent, compared with $17.83 in 2008. The increase reflects a 14 percent rise in food prices over the past three years.

Other groups declined in relative importance, including transport (down from $16.18 to $15.12 of every $100 spent), with lower spending on cars contributing to the fall.