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Vinyl records are now so hot they move UK inflation

A customer looks through a rack of vinyl records at the HMV store on London's Oxford Street in December 2023.
Peter Nicholls/Getty Images via CNN Newsource
A customer looks through a rack of vinyl records at the HMV store on London's Oxford Street in December 2023.

By Hanna Ziady, CNN

London (CNN) — The prices of vinyl records will feed into UK inflation statistics for the first time since 1992, highlighting a surge in their popularity among British consumers driven in part by Taylor Swift.

The Office for National Statistics published its annual update Monday to the basket of more than 700 goods and services it uses to measure inflation. This year, the ONS added 16 items and removed 15 to better reflect what consumers are now typically spending their money on.

“Our inflation basket of goods offers a fascinating snapshot of consumer spending through the years,” ONS deputy director for prices Matt Corder said in a statement.

“Often the basket reflects the adoption of new technology, but the return of vinyl records shows how cultural revivals can affect our spending,” he added.

The contents of the notional shopping basket matter because they form the basis for calculating the consumer price index, one of the measures of inflation the Bank of England will consider in deciding when to start cutting interest rates. UK inflation has slowed from 11.1% to 4% but remains above the central bank’s 2% target.

LPs — which dropped out of the UK inflation basket more than three decades ago, owing to the rise of CDs and cassettes — have made a huge comeback in recent years.

Last year, 6.1 million vinyl records were sold in Britain, the highest number since 1990, according to data from the British Phonographic Industry, an association of UK record companies and labels. Taylor Swift’s “1989 (Taylor’s Version)” sold the most copies.

BPI CEO Jo Twist said Monday that it was “entirely natural” for vinyl to be seen as a “popular indicator” of how people are spending their money.

“This much-loved format has seen demand grow consistently for nearly two decades, including among younger and more diverse consumers who stream daily but also love to own their favorite music on physical formats,” she added in a statement.

Air fryers, rice cakes reflect healthier habits

Other new items in this year’s inflation basket highlight the wider adoption of healthier lifestyles. These items include air fryers, rice cakes, sunflower and pumpkin seeds, as well as spray oils, which can be dispensed more sparingly and some of which contain less fat than regular cooking oils.

“The air fryer has cemented its place on many a kitchen counter over the last few years with expenditure increasing over 30% between 2021 and 2022,” the ONS said.

Gluten-free bread has also been added to the basket, reflecting the “increasing shelf space devoted to gluten-free products,” the ONS added.

Hand sanitizer, meanwhile, has fallen out of the measure, as demand has slumped since the end of the pandemic. Sofa beds have also been removed due to a drop in popularity.

According to the ONS, some of the changes help to rebalance the basket, adding items to widen coverage or removing items where a type of product may be over-represented. For example, “bakeware,” including baking trays and roasting tins, has been removed this year after analysis showed that its price movements follow a similar pattern to those of the frying pan, the ONS said.

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Article Topic Follows: Economy

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