Consumer prices up 0.5% in April compared to February

PHILIPSBURG–The Consumer Price Index for St. Maarten has increased in April by 0.5 per cent when compared to that of February 2017.

  The Department of Statistics STAT said in a press release on Thursday that when comparing average consumer prices over a twelve month period (April 2016 to April 2017) an inflation rate of 1.0 per cent is recorded.

  In April 2017, six of the nine expenditure categories recorded positive percentage changes (prices increased), one was negative (price decreased) and two remained stable. Prices increased in food (+1.6 per cent), beverages and tobacco (+1.9 per cent), housing (+0.6 per cent), medical care (+0.8 per cent), recreation and education (+0.2 per cent) and miscellaneous (+0.2 per cent). A decrease was recorded for the expenditure category for transport and communication (-0.7 per cent). The expenditure categories clothing and footwear and household furnishing and appliances remained constant.


  Within the Food category, eight of the nine sub groups became more expensive, while one was less expensive. The following groups recorded increases: grain (+0.8 per cent), meat and fish (+3.2 per cent), fats and oils (+1.3 per cent), potatoes, vegetables and fruits (+1.6 per cent), sugar and chocolate (+1.6 per cent), pre-cooked dishes (+3.2 per cent), eating-out (+1.1 per cent) and other food resources (+1.2 per cent), while dairy products (-0.2 per cent) became cheaper.

  More specifically, certain products within the Food subgroups largely influenced the total price change of the food category. Hence, the group grain was influenced by grain snacks (+11.8 per cent) and whole wheat bread and rye bread (+8 per cent). The group ‘Meat and Fish’ was impacted most by: beef (+28.7 per cent), other poultry (-18.6 per cent), pork meat n.e.c2 (+7.8 per cent), fish (+5.8 per cent), spareribs (+4 per cent), other fish (+2.6 per cent), chicken and chicken organs (+2.3 per cent) and pork chops (+1.7 per cent).

  The largest influence of the Dairy Products was cheese (-1.8 per cent). The price change of the subgroup potatoes, vegetables and fruits’ was largely due to: leafy greens (+30.1 per cent), sweet peppers (+14.7 per cent), spices (+11.1 per cent), fresh fruit n.e.c2 (-8.4 per cent), grapes and prunes (+8.1 per cent), potatoes (6.3 per cent), apples and pears (-5.6 per cent), tomatoes (-4.5 per cent), raisins (-3 per cent), other fresh vegetables (-3 per cent), and cabbage (-2.4 per cent).


  Within the Housing category, it was noted that four of the five product groups became more expensive and one remained stable. The product groups: energy expenses, maintenance of dwelling, garden maintenance and dwelling costs increased by +1.2 per cent, +0.5 per cent, +1.0 per cent and +0.4 per cent respectively.

  An increase in the consumer price of electricity by 1.3 per cent largely influenced the total price change within the product group energy expenses, while maintenance of dwelling was impacted most by pest control (-9.9 per cent) and paint (+3.4 per cent). The cost of soil and compost for gardening also increased (+14.3 per cent), thus affecting the group garden maintenance.

Transport and communication

  Of the four product groups within the Transport and Communication category, only vehicle expenses recorded a price change, namely a decrease of 0.2 per cent. The drop in cost of gasoline (-7 per cent) and car tires (-1.6 per cent) influenced this group.

  According to STAT, though the trend over the past three year period depicts gradual increasing consumer prices, it notes that prices have steadily declined during the period August 2015 through to April 2016. However, thereafter up to the current period (April 2017), there is a steady increase of the index, despite the slight drop in February. Therefore, over the last three years, consumer prices have shown some volatility, but seem to be gradually increasing.

  The 12-month average of consumer prices in April 2017 is 1.0 per cent. This represents an increase of 3 percentage points when compared to average prices in the same period last year.

  There are nine Household Expenditure Categories used to calculate the CPI. Three of these account for 69 per cent of the total household expenditure: housing (39 per cent), transportation and communication (20 per cent) and food (10 per cent). Analysis of the monthly figures of these categories showed that inflation has steadily decreased in the food category and deflation has been maintained in the transport and communication category. It should be highlighted that the average price development in the Housing category during the last four months have recorded inflation.

  Food accounts for 10 per cent of the total household expenditure. Over the past six years the inflation rate of food has generally mirrored that of the overall inflation rate for the observed nine expenditure categories. However, from September 2016 to present, while the inflation rate of food has continued to drop, the overall inflation rate has begun to show a steady increase. Moreover, it is notable that the current (April 2017) level of inflation recorded (3.1 per cent) is comparable to early 2011, STAT said. 

Source: The Daily Herald