The changes to the Office for National Statistics' RPI guide may come as a surprise to many, whose current shopping baskets may well involve a greater number of items from the Tesco value range. But such plutocratic titbits as rotisserie chicken, rose wine and portable video players have been added to the typical basket of goods used to calculate inflation. ‘No time to cook,' says the typical shopper, as they tear into a pre-cooked bird and glug a glass of wine, ‘there's videos to watch.'
Goods and services make the annually-updated basket when spending on them reaches such a level that they can be seen as typical. While we'd hate to get stuck behind the ONS' typical shopper at the checkout - the RPI basket contains 650 items - the list is seen as an accurate representative measure of our buying habits. Wine boxes, MP3 players and rentals from DVD hire shops have all been ousted from their positions on the list. Meanwhile the rotisserie chicken, rose wine and portable video players are joined by other tech treats, from Blu-ray discs to online DVD rentals.
Today's changes represent a minor shift in tastes compared to what has come before. Swapping DVDs for Blu-rays, or high-street DVD shopping for online rental, is a lot less of a change than what happened in, say, the 1950s, which saw people spending on mangles, toilet paper and admission to the dancehall at the expense of swede, soap flakes and frozen cod.
The 2000s so far have seen the removal from the basket of disposable razors, top 40 singles, slippers and gin. They have been replaced by mobile phones, fruit smoothies and chicken nuggets. Judging from those items, it seems the ‘typical' night in has become a lot less fun.