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Retail price index peaks at the end of Q1

Consumer prices jumped by 2.7 percent at the end of April, with consistent growth in the retail price index (RPI) during the first quarter of 2021, according to newly released data.

The Quarterly Statistical Digest released by the Central Bank of The Bahamas confirmed concerns raised earlier this year by the Bahamas Chamber of Commerce and Employers’ Confederation (BCCEC) as well as the Bahamas Price Control Commission that prices were skyrocketing amid the rising cost of raw materials and shipping operations globally.

The data showed that the retail price index increased from 108.75 in 2020 – the highest in 10 years at the time – to 109.71 in January and peaking at 110.26 in April.

An RPI, similar to a consumer price index, measures the average change in prices over time that consumers pay for a basket of items.

In particular for Bahamian consumers, while the cost of most basket items increased across the board, the price for healthcare, transportation and communications rose the most.

Specifically, healthcare jumped from 134.13 at the start of the year to 140.88 in April; communication jumped from 99.86 to 108.96 and transportation from 102.73 to 113.28 over the same period of time.

Food and non-alcoholic beverage saw moderate inflation from 110.55 in January to 110.80 in April; housing, water, gas and electricity rose marginally from 105.84 to 105.97; and restaurants and hotels from 120.41 to 121.05.

There were some segments that saw declines including clothing and footwear which dropped from 115.38 in January to 105.97 in April; recreation and culture which dropped drastically from 113.18 to 103.70; and miscellaneous goods and services which also saw a sharp decline from 11.25 in January to 106.88 in April.

Similar spikes in the annual change in prices were recorded in the United States and the United Kingdom which saw prices jump by as much as 5.39 percent and 2.49 percent , respectively, as of June.

Despite these changes, the CBOB said inflationary pressures are anticipated to remain relatively contained, excluding any shocks to international oil prices.

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