Consumer Price Index, April 2020
The Consumer Price Index (CPI) fell 0.2% on a year-over-year basis in April, down from a 0.9% gain in March. This was the first year-over-year decline in the CPI since September 2009. The CPI declined as energy prices fell as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Excluding energy, the CPI rose 1.6%.
On a seasonally adjusted monthly basis, the CPI fell 0.7% in April. Excluding food and energy, the seasonally adjusted CPI fell 0.1%.
Two ways of exploring the Consumer Price Index (CPI)
Compared with April 2019, consumers paid less for transportation (-4.4%), clothing and footwear (-4.1%), and recreation, education and reading (-0.7%). In contrast, the growth in food prices (+3.4%) accelerated in April 2020 and recorded the largest year-over-year increase of any major component. Prices rose in five of the eight major components on a year-over-year basis.
Gasoline prices continue to fall
Gasoline prices fell 39.3% on a year-over-year basis in April, the largest year-over-year decline on record. Globally, demand for oil remained low as a result of limited travel, temporary business closures, and lower levels of international trade. An oversupply in the oil market as a result of tensions between major oil-producing countries also contributed to lower prices at the gas pump.
Clothing and footwear prices fall
The clothing and footwear component fell 5.9% on a monthly basis in April 2020, the largest monthly decline in that component on record. In-person shopping for non-essential goods was suspended in many provinces throughout April, leaving clothing retailers with higher inventories since most clothing is typically purchased in-store. As a result, many retailers applied large discounts to online prices to avoid having leftover seasonal stock.
Consumers pay more for food in April
Higher sales for dry and preserved foods coincided with higher prices for these goods in April, as demand remained high. Year over year, prices for rice (+9.2%), eggs (+8.8%) and margarine (+7.9%) posted significant increases. These increases coincided with higher demand for non-perishable food products as consumers were encouraged to limit grocery shopping trips as a result of physical distancing measures.
Higher sales and supply issues, including a slowdown in cross-border shipping due to COVID-19, contributed to higher prices for pork (+9.0%) and beef (+8.5%) this April compared with April 2019. Canadian meat processing plants have cut production and some have closed temporarily to protect workers during the pandemic.
Prices for household cleaning products and toilet paper surge
On a monthly basis, the household cleaning products index rose 4.6%. The paper supplies index, which includes toilet paper, increased 6.0%, the largest monthly increase in this index on record. The price increases correspond to higher demand for cleaning products and household supplies in response to COVID-19.
Consumers pay less for traveller accommodation in April
As physical distancing measures limited travel to and within Canada, traveller accommodation prices fell 9.8% in April on a year-over-year basis, the largest decline since 2011. While prices fell in all provinces, there were notable declines in locations near major tourist attractions, including Niagara Falls and the Rocky Mountains.
As a result of international travel advisories, travel tours, among other services, were unavailable to consumers in April. A general imputation strategy for services not available to consumers resulted in prices for these trips departing in April being replaced with an imputed movement from the all-items CPI. As a result of this treatment, the travel tours index was up 8.9% compared with April 2019, when prices declined following the peak travel season in February and March.
Electricity prices decrease the most in Ontario
Consumers paid 4.1% less for electricity compared with April 2019. Electricity price decreases were most pronounced in Ontario, falling 12.6% on a year-over-year basis. The decline was largely due to the provincial government's 45-day suspension of time-of-use rates instated on March 24.
Consumer Price Index, major components and special aggregates, Canada – Not seasonally adjusted
Consumer Price Index for the provinces and for Whitehorse, Yellowknife and Iqaluit – Not seasonally adjusted
Consumer Price Index statistics, preferred measures of core inflation – Bank of Canada definitions, year-over-year percent change, Canada,
Note to readers
Impact of COVID-19 on CPI collection and calculation
Statistics Canada continues to monitor the impacts of the novel coronavirus (also known as COVID-19) on Canada's Consumer Price Index (CPI).
During the month of April, measures were in place across the country to restrict the movement of people and order the temporary closure of businesses. Subsequent in-person field collection was conducted via telephone or Internet, supplementing prices collected via web scraping, transaction data and administrative data. Due to the impact of COVID-19 on product availability in the month of April 2020, select sub-components of the CPI received temporary special imputations.
Some goods and services were unavailable for consumption in April. The following sub-indexes were imputed from the monthly change in the all-items index: some components of child care services; housekeeping services; personal care services; travel tours; spectator entertainment; and use of recreational facilities. These imputations have the effect of removing the impact of these goods and services on the CPI.
Although prices for airfares were collected prior to the suspension of flights, prices for suspended flights are excluded from the April CPI calculation because passengers were ultimately unable to consume them. As a result, select sub-components of the air transportation index were imputed from the parent index.
The indexes, beer served in licensed establishments, wine served in licensed establishments, and liquor served in licensed establishments were imputed from indexes to which consumers likely redirected these expenditures: beer purchased from stores, wine purchased from stores, and liquor purchased from stores.
Where prices were missing due to high levels of out-of-stock products or the temporary closure of businesses, they were imputed with the average price movement of available prices for those items.
Detailed documentation describing the methods and approaches used in the compilation of the April 2020 CPI is available in the article "Technical Supplement for the April 2020 Consumer Price Index," which is published as part of the Prices Analytical Series (). 62F0014M
Cellular services index
The cellular services index is available upon request. For more information, contact us (toll-free 1-800-263-1136; 514-283-8300; STATCAN.infostats-infostats.STATCAN@canada.ca).
Real-time data tables
Real-time data table 18-10-0259-01 will be updated on June 1.
The Consumer Price Index for May will be released on June 17.
The Consumer Price Index Data Visualization Tool is available on the Statistics Canada website.
More information about the concepts and use of the Consumer Price Index (CPI) is available in The Canadian Consumer Price Index Reference Paper (62-553-X).
For information on the history of the CPI in Canada, consult the publication Exploring the First Century of Canada's Consumer Price Index (62-604-X).
Two videos, "An Overview of Canada's Consumer Price Index (CPI)" and "The Consumer Price Index and Your Experience of Price Change," are available on Statistics Canada's YouTube channel.
For more information, or to enquire about the concepts, methods or data quality of this release, contact us (toll-free 1-800-263-1136; 514-283-8300; STATCAN.infostats-infostats.STATCAN@canada.ca) or Media Relations (613-951-4636; STATCAN.mediahotline-ligneinfomedias.STATCAN@canada.ca).