How fish fingers affect inflation
According to the Office of National Statistics, most of us will need to buy at least one of these 12 items over the next year. Here's how to make sure you get a bargain!
If there's one thing that savers and borrowers can agree on, it's that today's jump in inflation to 3.7% is bad news. Bad news for savers because it means most are now earning nothing on their savings after tax and inflation are taken into account, and bad news for borrowers because pressure is growing on the Bank of England to put up interest rates in order to bring inflation down.
But what exactly is inflation? Why does it matter?
Inflation, quite simply, is a measure of the change in the prices of goods. It matters because, as inflation rises, the real value of the money you have in your pocket and your bank account literally decreases. So while you used to be able to buy for a £1 now costs you more.
How can we tell inflation is rising?
Each year the Office of National Statistics publishes its ‘typical’ basket of goods, that it will use to measure inflation. Many of items in the basket remain the same or have been there forever (for example, family staples like sausages and sliced bread) but Items are added if they have significant sales over the past year, while those that don’t sell so well drop out of the basket. The Government then uses the changes in price over the year of these goods to work out just what is happening to prices across the country.
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What's interesting is that the changes to the contents of that basket say a fair bit about us as a nation.
For example, some fashionistas (whatever they are) have declared that the “reign of lipstick is over” now that it has dropped out of the basket, to be replaced by lip gloss. Similarly hairdryers have been dumped for hair straighteners, while cereal bars and computer games with accessories have also been added to the basket.
All this is great fun of course, but if you fancy getting your basket of goods at inflation busting prices, where should you be headed? As there are a whopping 650 goods in the basket in total, that might take a while, so I’ll focus on those goods that have just been added to the basket this year!
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#1 - Liquid soap
Apparently we don’t wash with bars of soap anymore – we use a liquid version.
Usefully, the Office of National Statistics has opted against telling us just what quantity of soap we tend to buy, so I’ve gone for 250ml. If you head over to Concord Extra you can get your hands on a 250ml tub of Dove liquid soap for just 99p! Bargain!
#2 – Garlic Bread
No surprise that this is in the basket – it’s not a pasta dish without a helping of garlic bread on the side in my house!
#3 – Cereal bars
If you need a healthy snack during the day, clearly many of you are turning to cereal bars to keep hunger at bay.
Again mysupermarket.co.uk is your friend. You can get your hands on a Cofresh Peanut bar for a paltry 18p from ASDA, while if you absolutely have to have your Kellogg’s Special K bar, then get yourself over to Sainsbury's where it will set you back just 40p.
#4 – Frozen fish in breadcrumbs/batter
Yep, I know what you’re thinking – that’s just a fish finger isn’t it?
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According to the Office of National Statistics, it was introduced to improve the coverage of fish which had up to now been underrepresented.
And if you are after some frozen fish covered in breadcrumbs or batter, then unsurprisingly the own brands do work out mighty cheap – just £2 for four battered cod fillets at ASDA. However, if you want a bit more luxury, then at Tesco you can get eight Birds Eye fish fingers for 97p.
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#5 – Powdered baby formula
Apparently old fashioned baby food – you know, the really appetising stuff – is now out, to be replaced with the powdered version.
The best value deal I could find comes from Ocado, where you can stock up on a whopping 900g of Cow & Gate milk powder for £7.24.
#6 – Bottle of fruit drink
It turns out we no longer turn to a can of Coke when we are a bit parched – we opt for a bottle of a fruit based drink instead. Apparently it's definitely a bottle, not a carton!
Tesco is again a decent bet, with a litre of orange juice setting you back 56p.
#7 – Small bottle of still mineral water
If a fruit juice isn’t going to do the job, then water should.
At Tesco you can get a two-litre bottle of still water for the tiny price of 13p.
#8 – Allergy tablets
Believe it or not, it’s nearly Spring, and that means it’s almost time for my eyes to get itchy thanks to hayfever. Get yourself over to Chemist Direct where you can get 30 tablets for the princely price of 30p. That's 1p a tablet!
#9 – Blu-ray disc players
Forget DVDs – they are just so 2009, apparently. Blu-ray discs are all the rage now, so you’ll need something to play them on.
If you head over to Amazon, then this Logik Blu Ray Disc & DVD player costs just £60.
#10 – Computer games with accessory
Gone are the days when a computer game consisted of guiding a hedgehog named Sonic around a course in search of some gold rings. Now, you can’t play the game without an accompanying drumkit, steering wheel or rocket launcher (OK I made that last one up, but give it a year!)
The ultimate game of this genre is of course the mega-popular Guitar Hero. If you fancy snapping up the latest game, with accompanying guitar, get yourself over to Shopto.net where the bundle will set you back £59.85 for the PS3 and Nintendo Wii versions, and £60 for the Xbox360 version.
#11 – Electrical hair straighteners
My other half couldn’t survive without her straighteners, so I’m well aware of how important they are to those of you with hair.
If you are going for the serious budget option, then at Argos you can get a straightener from the Value Range for just £4.84. However if you’re desperate for a top of the line straightener, then you’ll want a GHD one. And if you head over to Beautycow.com, you can get the GHD MK4 Styler for £89.89 – that’s a saving of £26.55.
#12 – Lip gloss
Ah yes, lip gloss. You’ll be surprised to hear I don’t travel around with it about my person at all times, though apparently an awful lot of you do.
The best deal I could find was over at Blush Comsmetics, where you can get Rimmel Infinite Colour Lip Gloss for £1.99.
On the way out
The products highlighted above have all come into the basket, but what has fallen out? Here are the items that have fallen out of our typical basket of goods:
- Pitta bread
- Baby food
- Fruit drink carton
- Fizzy canned drink
- Men’s training shoe – casual footwear
- Gas call out charge
- Gas service charge
- Eyesight test charge
- Disposable camera
- Squash court hire
- Individual bar of soap
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