As millions of people began working, exercising and doing just about everything from home during the pandemic, sales of sweatpants and dumbbells surged enough to worry the fashion industry about a shortage of leisure wear. Britain’s statisticians expect those consumer trends to stick around.
Hand weights and men’s loungewear pants, along with hand sanitizer, have been added to the list of items the Office for National Statistics uses to track prices and calculate Britain’s inflation rate, the statistics agency said Monday. Women’s sweatshirts were also added to expand the women’s casual wear section.
Every year, the basket of goods and services, which has more than 720 items in it, is updated. This year, 17 products were added and 10 were removed from the official shopping cart. The updated list is part trend report, part academic statistical analysis.
Among the changes:
Hybrid and electric cars were added. Purchases have increased in anticipation of conventional cars being phased out. The government plans to ban the sale of cars that run solely on gas and diesel by 2030.
A smartwatch and smart light bulb were added, reflecting the growing popularity of connected devices. (Smart speakers were already included.)
The “staff restaurant sandwich” — that is, a sandwich from a company cafeteria — was removed because the number of staff canteens has fallen as more people (when they work in the office) are bringing lunches from outside their workplace.
Ground coffee was replaced with instant coffee in a packet because there has been a move toward “the convenience of having a complete drink in a sachet.”
Face masks, perhaps the most ubiquitous consumer item of 2020, was considered but were left off the list. In explaining why, the statisticians revealed some cautious optimism.
“Consumer spending and usage” of face masks, the agency said, “could decrease rapidly once the population have been vaccinated, so there could be problems in collecting prices toward the end of 2021.”