The Consumer Price Index: Keeping up with Canadian Consumers

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Release date: July 21, 2021
Infographic: The Consumer Price Index: Keeping up with Canadian Consumers
Description: The Consumer Price Index: Keeping up with Canadian Consumers

The Consumer Price Index: Keeping up with Canadian Consumers

The retail landscape has evolved rapidly since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. Canadians adjusted their consumption habits to include new essential products for daily living, and new ways of purchasing in order to limit in-person shopping trips.

The Consumer Price Index (CPI) represents changes in prices as experienced by Canadian consumers. It measures price change by comparing the cost of a fixed basket of goods and services over time, according to eight major components.

The CPI basket is regularly updated to:

  • reflect the relative importance of various goods and services according to the Canadian’s spending habits and,
  • add and remove products and services to maintain the relevance of the basket.

Updates to the CPI basket

Relative importance of the eight major components based on average Canadian household expenditures in 2020

Table 1
Table summary
This table displays the results of Table 1. The information is grouped by Major Component (appearing as row headers), Relative importance , calculated using percentage units of measure (appearing as column headers).
Major Component Relative importance
All-items 100
Shelter 29.78
Food 16.44
Transportation 15.34
Household operations, furnishings and equipment 15.21
Recreation, education and reading 9.53
Alcoholic beverages, tobacco products and recreational cannabis 4.86
Health and personal care 4.76
Clothing and footwear 4.08

New to the basket:

  • Hand sanitizer
  • Gaming consoles
  • Disinfecting wipes
  • Electric vehicles
  • Food delivery services
  • Face masks

As a key measure of inflation, the CPI continues to incorporate new data sources and methods to adapt to the changing world. The CPI has also responded to the suspension of in-person price collection due to the COVID-19 pandemic—most CPI prices are now collected from alternative data sources, including retail scanner data and websites. These advances ensure that the CPI remains an accurate measure of inflation in changing times.

Where does CPI price data come from?

Table 2
Table summary
This table displays the results of Table 2. The information is grouped by Collection method (appearing as row headers), Percentage of total price data (appearing as column headers).
Collection method Percentage of total price data
Partially priced online 40
Administrative data sources 30
Fully priced online 15
Retail scanner data 10
Other 5

On average, approximately 97,000 prices are collected every month to produce the CPI!

Source: Statistics Canada, Consumer Price Index

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