Suits out, sports bras in as number crunchers shake up basket used to calculate inflation

Men’s suits are out and sports bras and crop tops are in as the basket of goods used by official statisticians to calculate price rises is given its annual shake-up.

Changes by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) reflect consumer spending patterns still being re-shaped by the pandemic.

The disappearance of men’s suits, in favour of smart jackets or blazers, reflects the continued popularity of working from home, while the appearance of the sports bra is related to the growth in exercising, the ONS said.

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Its inflation basket of more than 700 items is designed to be “representative of the goods and services that consumers typically spend their money on” and shows their “changing tastes and habits”.

Sam Beckett, ONS head of economic statistics, said the latest reconfiguration showed “the impact of the pandemic still evident in our shopping habits”.


“With many people still working from home, demand for more formal clothing has continued to decrease,” she said.

“So, men’s suits disappear from the basket and are replaced with a formal jacket or blazer.

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“Last year’s lockdown living saw an increase in the number of us working out and exercising.

“That has continued into 2022 with the addition of the sports bra into the basket reflecting greater spending on sports clothing.”

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Other changes include the single doughnut leaving the basket as sales of individual cakes decline in favour of multipacks – another change attributed to home working.

Meanwhile, continued high demand for antibacterial products sees surface wipes added.

A boom in pet ownership during the pandemic has resulted in dog and cat collars entering the list.

Other societal changes are also reflected – with the increasing adoption of vegan and vegetarian diets meaning canned beans, chickpeas and lentils, as well as meat free sausages, are added.

The switch away from coal sees the once-ubiquitous household fuel dropped ahead of a ban on its domestic use next year as part of action to combat climate change, the ONS said.

The statistics agency said that it had this year added 19 items to the basket, while removing 15 and leaving 715 unchanged.

Meanwhile, it revealed further details of plans to change the way it presents and calculates UK inflation figures.

With Britain facing its biggest cost of living increases in three decades, it has come under pressure over claims that the statistics fail to reflect the extent of the squeeze felt by the worst off.

The ONS said that alongside inflation figures for February, to be published next week, it would be launching a personal inflation calculator for individuals to work out their own experience.

It is also moving to improve data sources by working with retailers to obtain price “scanner data” straight from the till – to be included in headline inflation data from 2024.