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Consumer Price Index, September 2020

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Released: 2020-10-21

Consumer Price Index

September 2020

0.5% increase

(12-month change)

The Consumer Price Index (CPI) rose 0.5% on a year-over-year basis in September, up from a 0.1% increase in August. Excluding gasoline, the CPI rose 1.0% in September, following a 0.6% increase in August. The acceleration in the CPI was largely due to price changes in the transportation, recreation, education and reading, and shelter components.

Year over year, the decline in gasoline prices (-10.7%) in September was comparable to the 11.1% decrease in August, while food price growth (+1.6%) slowed slightly compared with last month (+1.8%).

On a seasonally adjusted monthly basis, the CPI rose 0.1% in September.

Chart 1  Chart 1: The 12-month change in the Consumer Price Index (CPI) and CPI excluding gasoline
The 12-month change in the Consumer Price Index (CPI) and CPI excluding gasoline


Prices rose in six of the eight major components on a year-over-year basis in September.

Chart 2  Chart 2: Prices rise in six of eight major components
Prices rise in six of eight major components

Air transportation prices accelerate year over year, while traveller accommodation prices decline

Year over year, air transportation prices fell less in September (-3.2%) than in August (-16.0%). Traditionally, prices decline in September as demand weakens after prices rise during the peak summer travel season. Prices did not follow their usual seasonal pattern this year, as airfares fell during July and August amid the COVID-19 pandemic. As a result, prices fell less on a monthly basis in September 2020 (-7.3%) than in September 2019 (-19.5%) or September 2018 (-16.6%).

Tourist activity has remained weak since the onset of COVID-19 and related safety measures, including land border closures and travel advisories, which contributed to lower prices for air travel and traveller accommodation. Traveller accommodation prices were 26.5% lower in September 2020 compared with September 2019.

Additional research related to COVID-19

For more information about the impact of COVID-19 on consumer spending, please consult the research document entitled "Adjusting the Consumer Price Index to the new spending realities during the pandemic" released on October 8, which explores new sources of expenditure data to estimate basket weights that reflect shifting consumption patterns during the pandemic. The monthly adjusted price index (provisional) and the monthly adjusted consumer expenditure basket weights data tables are available.

For more information on consumer expenditures during COVID-19, users can consult two available documents. The first is "Canadian Consumers Prepare for COVID-19," which examines the shifting consumption patterns of Canadians during the COVID-19 pandemic up to March 14. The second is "Canadian Consumers Adapt to COVID-19: A Look at Canadian Grocery Sales up to April 11," which explores a continued shift in the consumption patterns of Canadians during the COVID-19 pandemic up to April 11.

All of the above publications can be found in the Prices Analytical Series (Catalogue number62F0014M).

Infographic 1  Thumbnail for Infographic 1: Monthly air transportation price change
Monthly air transportation price change

Passenger vehicle prices higher on a year-over-year basis in September

Year over year, the increase in prices for passenger vehicles was higher in September (+2.7%) than in August (+2.2%). Demand for passenger vehicles has been stronger in recent months compared with the onset of the pandemic, which contributed to higher prices.

Consumers pay less for clothing compared with September 2019

Clothing and footwear prices fell 4.1% on a year-over-year basis in September, down from a 1.3% decrease in August. Demand for back-to-school clothing this September may have been impacted by factors related to COVID-19, continuing a trend of lower clothing sales during the pandemic and contributing to lower prices for consumers.

Chart 3  Chart 3: Clothing and footwear prices fall on a year-over-year basis
Clothing and footwear prices fall on a year-over-year basis

Price growth slows in the mortgage interest cost index, but ticks up in the homeowners' replacement cost index

Year over year, the mortgage interest cost index grew less rapidly in September (+0.1%) than in August (+0.9%). Mortgage rates continue to face downward pressure from lower interest rates following reductions in the Bank of Canada's policy interest rate in March.

Lower interest rates coincided with increased demand for single-family homes, which, along with higher building material costs and low inventory of homes for sale, contributed to higher costs for new housing. Year over year, the homeowners' replacement cost index, which is related to the price of new homes, rose 2.6% in September, up from a 2.0% increase in August.

Regional highlights

Prices rose in seven provinces on a year-over-year basis in September. Year-over-year price increases were generally lower in the Atlantic provinces, where furnace fuel oil is more commonly used. Prices for fuel oil and other fuels were 20.7% lower in September 2020 than in September 2019.

Chart 4  Chart 4: The Consumer Price Index increases in seven provinces
The Consumer Price Index increases in seven provinces

Tuition fees increase the most in Alberta

The tuition fees index, priced annually in September, increased 1.9% after falling 3.6% in September 2019. Tuition fees rose the most in Alberta (+6.0%) following the end of a freeze to tuition fees in the province. Prices rose the least in Ontario (+0.3%), following an 8.9% decrease in 2019 when the Ontario government enacted tuition cuts.

Chart 5  Chart 5: Tuition fees increase the most in Alberta
Tuition fees increase the most in Alberta

The Personal Inflation Calculator—Coming Soon!

This interactive tool will allow users to calculate a personal inflation time-series. By entering dollar amounts into expense categories, users will create their own unique basket weights! These weights will be combined with official CPI price movements to produce a personalized inflation trend that can be compared with the official measure of inflation.

Two ways of exploring the Consumer Price Index

Visit the Consumer Price Index portal to find all CPI data, publications, interactive tools, and announcements highlighting new products and upcoming changes to the CPI in one convenient location.

Check out the "Consumer Price Index Data Visualization Tool" to access current and historical CPI data in a customizable visual format.

  Note to readers

COVID-19 and the Consumer Price Index

Statistics Canada continues to monitor the impacts of the novel coronavirus (also known as COVID-19) on Canada's Consumer Price Index (CPI).

In September, measures remained in place across much of the country to restrict gatherings and the movement of people. In-person field collection continued to be conducted via telephone or Internet for health and safety reasons, 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 September 2020, select sub-components of the CPI received temporary special imputations.

Goods and services in the Consumer Price Index (CPI) which were not available to consumers in September due to COVID-19 restrictions received special treatments, effectively removing their impact on the monthly CPI. The following sub-indexes were imputed from the monthly change in the All-items index: travel tours, components of spectator entertainment, and recreational services.

Consistent with previous months affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, prices for suspended flights are excluded from the September 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 (air transportation).

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.

A document entitled "Technical Supplement for the September 2020 Consumer Price Index" is available in the Prices Analytical Series (Catalogue number62F0014M) publication, with further details on the imputations used to compile the September 2020 CPI.

Cellular services index

The cellular services index is now published in data table 18-10-0004-01.

Real-time data tables

Real-time data table 18-10-0259-01 will be updated on November 2. For more information, consult the document Real-time CANSIM tables.

Next release

The Consumer Price Index for October will be released on November 18.


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 (Catalogue number62-553-X).

For information on the history of the CPI in Canada, consult the publication Exploring the First Century of Canada's Consumer Price Index (Catalogue number62-604-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.

Contact information

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; or Media Relations (613-951-4636;

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