Typical shopping basket goes high-tech

Into this year's inflation monitor come dating fees, iPhone apps and sparkling wine; out go fleeces and pork shoulder.

by Emma Haslett
Last Updated: 06 Nov 2012
The Office of National Statistics has just completed its annual spring clean of the ‘typical’ shopping basket of goods it uses to determine inflation. And it’s becoming increasingly apparent that the average British shopper is a twenty-something woman. To wit: the fleeces and mobile phone ringtone downloads of her adolescence have been cast out, to be replaced by smartphones, app downloads, sparkling wine and hair conditioner. Oh, and online dating fees. So she’s single, as well.

To get into the basket, an item must have sales worth more than £400m. So it’s surprising that other items gone from the basket (which contains 650 products – so our woman’s Saturday morning shop may take some time) include pork shoulder, which has been swapped for an oven-ready joint as the popularity of the ready-meal continues apace, and cigarette vending machines, which are due to be made illegal next month.

And producers of the once-popular DIY show Changing Rooms will brighten up at the mention of MDF, which has replaced hardboard as the nation’s DIY material of choice. (Quick – someone get Handy Andy on the phone).

The new additions emphasise one trend in particular: the growing popularity of smartphones and apps. Their presence here is an indication of just how vital those pieces of technology have become.

The shopping basket is certainly an interesting insight into the way technology is infiltrating its way into the nation’s consciousness. But we hope that oven-ready joint isn’t an indication that we’re now too all busy to enjoy all these new developments. To paraphrase William Henry Davies – ‘What is this life if, full of care / we have no time to play Angry Birds’.

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