E-Books Join U.K. Inflation Gauge as Champagne Is Removed

The price of e-books and white rum sold in stores will help determine Britain’s inflation rate after the Office for National Statistics added them to the list of goods and services it monitors to gauge living costs.

They will now be included in the basket of items that make up the consumer prices index and the retail prices index, the ONS said in a statement in London today. The list is reviewed annually to ensure it represents consumer spending, with changes made for reasons ranging from improved technology to popularity.

E-books read on computer tablets such as Amazon.com Inc.’s Kindle “represent a significant and growing market,” the statistics office said. The sale of champagne on licensed premises has been removed as demand for the drink falls, the agency said.

The ONS also added hot chocolate, digital television receivers and recorders, European sliced deli-type meats, blueberries, packaged vegetables for stir-frying, self-assembly kitchen wall units and packs of daily disposable contact lenses. Other items removed include Freeview television receiver boxes, basin taps and pairs of soft contact lenses.

In a separate release today, the statistics office published historical data for two new measures of inflation it will introduce next week.

The new RPIJ index, which adjusts the existing retail prices index to use a geometric method of averaging price change, was 2.5 percent in December versus 3.1 percent for the RPI, the ONS said. A measure called CPIH, which adds owner-occupiers’ housing costs to the existing consumer prices index, was 2.5 percent versus 2.7 percent for the CPI. Data for February will be published March 19 along with monthly inflation figures.

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